House District 54 Republican primary: Bob Hislop profile
Bob Hislop is an undercover salesman.
The retired 67-year-old Fruita resident knows that the best undercover officer must sell himself so as not to blow his cover, and that the best salesman is one that doesn’t seem like he’s selling you anything at all.
The son of an FBI agent and a White House secretary during World War II, Hislop was born in Boulder years before people began referring to that foothills town as being its own republic.
From kindergarten through high school, Hislop’s early education was pretty much like everyone else’s. But he quickly discovered that going to the University of Colorado in his own hometown wasn’t such a grand idea.
“You knew where all the fun places were, so my college education didn’t start really well,” he said.
That’s when he transferred to High Point University in central North Carolina, a small private college near the east slope of the Appalachian Mountains. There, he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science, graduating in 1966.
Hislop spent the next four years working as a salesman for a Baltimore-based company that specialized in women’s sportswear.
He was 27 when he went to Columbus, Ohio, joining the police department and becoming an undercover officer assigned to gather intelligence about antiwar groups during the turbulent Vietnam War era.
“There was a very anti-U.S. feeling, antiwar feeling in the country, so I was undercover most of my time in the police department,” he said. “It was to get under with various groups, antiwar people, the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), (Abbie Hoffman’s) Yippies. Eventually, they realized who I was, and various arrests were made.”
During that time, Hislop would drive to Rickenbacker Air Force Base south of Columbus to earn his master’s degree in public administration at an extension campus of Central Michigan University. But he didn’t start his master’s program there.
“While I was undercover, I started taking classes at Ohio State, and I was having a difficult time with the classes because the professors where more liberal than I was, and I was this long-haired, hippie-looking guy,” he said. “I was arguing in class like a conservative, and it’s not ringing well. I’m not being well-received in school, and I’m jeopardizing what I’m supposed to be doing. That’s when I transferred to the extension school.”
Not long after earning that degree, and with protests dying down with the end of the war, Hislop was approached by a friend who suggested he take the exam to become a Secret Service agent.
Hislop spent the next 21 years working in various offices of that agency, finishing his career in the Denver office. He worked as an advance man for numerous trips from Presidents Gerald Ford to Bill Clinton, was the lead agent on the agency’s Middle East desk for a few years and coordinated intelligence during Pope John Paul II’s 1993 visit to Denver.
Grand Junction resident Paul Rundle has known Hislop for years, first as a Secret Service agent and later as a friend.
“While I was in charge of protection for the Secret Service, all the protective details for the president, vice president and others, Bob worked in the intelligence division,” Rundle said. “He provided intelligence estimates to us upon which we based our security arrangements. So I would have to tell you I have full trust, faith and confidence in what he says.”
When Hislop moved to town — Rundle retired here in 1995 — the two knew each other as colleagues. They have become close friends.
Not long after Hislop decided to leave the Secret Service, he was approached by another old friend, John Paul DeJoria, the chief executive officer for John Paul Mitchell Systems, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based company that sells hair-care products.
DeJoria hired him as a special assistant and later made him a vice president in charge of improving the company’s distribution system. Some of that work included investigating distributors who weren’t doing their jobs right. Other times, Hislop did actual sales.
Lu Ann Harrah, owner of Harrah’s Salon Skin and Nails, first met Hislop about a decade ago when he walked into her shop at 1005 N. 12 St. He was there not to get a haircut or his nails done, but to discuss the Paul Mitchell products she always has used.
“We’ve been with Paul Mitchell for years, and he was very helpful in diversification within the company, and in helping salons as a go-between with the company and their programs,” she said. “I do his wife’s hair now, but not his.”
Hislop did that job for a few years before retiring for the second time. Two years later, he and second wife, Krysstine Gubser-Hislop, moved to Fruita, where they built a house in 2006. They have four children, but none together. His eldest was with his first wife, Linda, to whom he was married for 20 years.
“We wanted to buy a house that was comfortable for us,” Hislop said. “We could have bought a house twice that size, but we wanted to have the freedom to be able to travel and do things. It’s just my conservative nature.”
Though he’d been around politics all his life, Hislop never got actively involved until he moved to Mesa County. He began to attend area events, including regular luncheons put on by the Mesa County Republican Party, and he began to think he should get more involved.
That’s when he made the decision to run.
“It would have been easy to stay home and stay retired, and certainly not take the wrath of some of those that oppose me with their twisted, vile lies and innuendos and nontruths,” Hislop said. “But I still have a belief and a faith in America and the American people and in Colorado.”