Sandifer, Marilyn (Rutt)

Written by Linda Kirkpatrick on .


Marilyn Sandifer

(1941 - )

Marilyn was a school teacher from Stroudsburg, PA, who dyed her hair blond, bought a new, red Mustang fast-back and headed west in 1965 to see some of the United States. She was hired as a folk singer at Greystone Guest Ranch in Evergreen where she sang folk songs for the weekly cookouts and for guests in the bar.  She also cleaned rooms, tended bar, waited tables, and did laundry there.  It was at Greystone that she met her husband-to-be, Bill Sandifer, whose family owned and operated the 1250-acre guest ranch on Upper Bear Creek.

They married in 1966 and honeymooned in Washington, DC, where a highlight was a visit with First President Johnson's wife, Lady Bird Johnson, at the White House.  Marilyn's mother-in-law and Lady Byrd were cousins.

Marilyn taught at Parmalee Elementary School in Indian Hills.  During this time her in-laws turned over operation of the guest ranch to Bill and Marilyn, and she suddenly became a guest ranch manager -- "the job I was put on this earth to do!" she points out.

In the fall of 1975, she was hosting a lunch at the ranch for the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce board of directors.  Former Realtor Don Stanbro, a board member, said "If Evergreen had a governing body, it would be us."

"Oh, no," she interjected.  "You couldn't be!  There are no women on this board!"  After a trip to the kitchen to check on the lunch she returned to discover that she'd been unanimously elected to the board."  However, there was no vacancy on the board, so it couldn't be official.  Nevertheless, they assured her that, if she came to the board meetings, they would never take a vote without first hearing her opinion.  They held true to their promise, and she was elected to be the first woman board member of the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce in 1976.  She served as secretary of the board in 1977-78.  Even after Greystone was sold in 1981, she stayed active with the Chamber as an ambassador.

After the guest ranch had a new owner, Marilyn became a community volunteer focusing mostly on areas involving children and young people.  She was a Girl Scout troop leader, a member on the board of Forest Heights Lodge, a volunteer who helped clean the lodge in Marshdale that housed the Colorado Philharmonic Orchestra each summer.  In addition, she was an active member of the Parent Council at Evergreen Junior High School and taught an aerobics class for the teachers after school.

In 1983 she was one of the founding mothers of Mountain Area Families in Action, which was fondly referred to as MAFIA.  The organization was created to show kids they could have fun without alcohol and drugs.  As part of that program, she spearheaded an event at the high school hosting David Toma (a Newark, NJ, narcotic cop), who talked about preventing drug and alcohol abuse.  The event drew more than 2,000 students and parents..

According to the fire department, there were more serious accidents involving high school students on prom night than at any other time.  So, the MAFIA moms started the All Night Party following the prom at Evergreen High School; the cost of the event was borne by parents who donated approximately $10,000 per year.  Parents decorated the school elaborately, brought in unusual entertainment, created games and other activities, and served as chaperones for the party that began at midnight and continued until dawn.  "Kids flocked to the party, and we knew lives were being saved!"  Marilyn co-chaired the event three times.

In 1987 she served with the group who developed the first community land-use plan for the Evergreen Mountain area.

She performed in two productions by The Evergreen Players.

In 1988 Marilyn was recognized by the Chamber of Commerce as Evergreen's Person of the Year.

She has been singing in the choir of Church of the Hills since 1966 where she has been involved with a variety of activities including teaching Sunday school, vacation Bible school, helping with the community supper, and serving on a number of committees.

Since 1997 she has volunteered at the desk of the food bank for Evergreen Christian Outreach and since 2005 has served as the "official greeter" for the Evergreen Kiwanis breakfast, which she denotes as "one of my favorite things to do!"

Evergreen, Our Mountain Community describes her as "one of the funniest ladies in Evergreen, Marilyn is warm-hearted and gutsy.  She is also a good sport...."


Source:  Marilyn Sandifer and Evergreen, Our Mountain Community