George and Kathy Glasier: Welcome to the Silver Hawk Ranch
Portrait 2011 — Volume 1: Leaving a legacy
George and Kathy Glasier call their spread in western Montrose County the Silver Hawk Ranch for the way the sun reflected off the feathers of the raptors as they passed over the pasture one bright, clear, high-country day.
It was two decades ago that the Glasiers bought the ranch about three miles upstream on the San Miguel River from Naturita.
Each of them had ranching in the blood. Just not in any real experience.
George, whose parents hailed from Telluride, had toyed with the idea of owning a small ranch soon after he graduated from law school in 1972, but he hadn’t the money. Kathy, also known as Miss Ohio USA in 1972 and fourth runner-up in the Miss USA contest that year, always wanted to marry a rancher.
So it was only natural that the pair would look for land and some cattle at some point.
They settled on the former San Miguel Ranch after looking all over the West for property. It helped that George, 67, was familiar with the territory from his previous career and that the ranch was available for a reasonable price.
The Glasiers, however, had to pony up for a new herd, the cattle they bought with the ranch being in poor shape when they arrived.
They needed equipment, as well, but didn’t know exactly what they had to have. So they took to attending Western Implement’s annual equipment sales, examining what was on the block and relying on advice they got there.
“We had no idea what we were doing,” Kathy, 57, said. “They called us ‘Sanford and Wife’ because we bought everything they had.”
“Sanford and Son,” an NBC sit-com about a father and son who ran a salvage shop, premiered, of course, in 1972 and lasted five years.
The Glasiers’ run has lasted much longer and they’re still learning about the business of ranching, including the discovery that some of the cattle facilities on the ranch they bought were designed by Temple Grandin, the Colorado State University professor whose autism has provided insight about the safe and efficient handling of cattle.
For all their ranching dreams, the Glasiers had few illusions about fulfilling them.
“I love riding horses, but I’m not a cowboy,” he said. “For the first year, year and a half, we didn’t watch any television at night when we went to bed,” dropping off instead into exhausted sleep, he said.
Kathy did watch some TV — Julia Child on Betamax — learning not just to cook, but to cook for large numbers of people, meaning hungry ranch hands.
Even while the Glasiers have taken up their long-held ranching dreams, they also took an old one back up again.
George Glasier, who was first the lawyer and then marketing chief for privately owned Energy Fuels Inc. in the last heyday of uranium, continued to watch the uranium market through his first retirement. In 2005 he saw prices beginning to rebound and he founded Energy Fuels Resources, a company whose shares are traded on the Toronto stock exchange and whose name harkens back to the original company, long the largest supplier of uranium in the world.
Energy Fuels Resources is the company seeking to renew the uranium industry in the West End of Montrose County with a bevy of mines and its proposal to build the first conventional uranium mill in the United States in three decades.
The mill license now is in the courts, environmental organizations having appealed the issuance of the permit.
The business of running an energy company has turned out a bit differently than Kathy Glasier had expected. Much like ranching, where she regularly gets out among the cattle, she expected Energy Fuels to operate in a similar hands-on manner, she said.
“I was looking forward to staking mining claims,” she said.
Instead, the business has been largely one of paperwork, negotiation and sales.
It was enough work that George, who founded the company, retired last year, leaving to others the travel and reporting requirements of a publicly held company.
The Glasiers still own stock and monitor closely developments around the mill.
They also are involved in the nearby town, with George offering occasional, free, legal advice to the town of Naturita and Kathy befriending newcomers in the “Ex-pats From The Big City Club,” and jumping into other civic affairs.
“She’s a good town cheerleader,” said Dianna Reams of Naturita, who sits on the Montrose Memorial Hospital Board. “She’s very interested in everything.”
Kathy Glasier, in fact, has been elected to the board of the chamber of commerce.
It’s because of the Glasiers that there might be some commerce in the Naturita area, Reams said.
“They’ve introduced a large and wonderful industry back in our area,” Reams said.
Time was when the Glasiers bought the San Miguel, the running town bet was they’d last three years, about the same amount of time that each of a string of previous owners had hung in before selling out, Kathy said.
Those bets have long since been paid off and the Glasiers are still ranching.
As it happens, he cuts the firewood, she stacks it. They answer e-mail in the morning and spend the rest of the day dealing with chores — all in a day’s work at the Silver Hawk Ranch, where the family business is really more summed up by another bird, albeit a mythical one: the phoenix.