Ted Sells wasn’t actually born in Colorado, but he’s every inch an Evergreen native.
In point of fact, Sells was born at the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, California. His dad flew fighter jets for the Corps before mustering out of the service and into a long tour with Johns Manville at its home base in New York. When Johns Manville moved its headquarters to Colorado, the Sells family flew west and made a three-point landing in Hiwan Country Club.
At Evergreen Senior High School young Ted was more interested in sports than anything else, batting, tackling and wrestling his way into the heart of the class president, a lovely Cougar named Karen. Completely uninterested in math-related fields, after graduating with Evergreen’s Class of 1976 he snapped up a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, married Karen, and enrolled in the law school at the University of Denver. It was during Ted’s freshman year at DU that his legal career got a boost from a decidedly unexpected direction.
On March 30, 1981, John Hinckley, Jr., tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. Hinckley’s parents, John Sr. and Jo Ann, happened to be next-door neighbors and good friends of the Sellses, who couldn’t help getting drawn into the ferocious media storm that instantly engulfed the ordinarily quiet neighborhood.
“The Hinckleys spent the first couple of nights at our house trying to get away from the reporters,” Ted recalls. “It was a mess. I came up from DU to help out.”
It was while helping out during those chaotic days that he made acquaintance with the Hinckley’s lawyer, local attorney Jim Robinson. Impressed with the apt pupil, Robinson invited Ted to work summers as a law clerk at his practice. Bright and hard-working, Ted was soon promoted to assistant attorney, then to associate and, finally, to partner. With his professional prospects improving all the time, Ted could have easily found a good living and a gracious home anywhere in the country. Of course, leaving Evergreen was never really an option.
“Look at this place,” he smiles. “Why would we live anywhere else?”
The Sellses put out their Welcome mat first among the hills and hollows of upper Stagecoach Boulevard, then in Hiwan Country Club and, finally, in the Ridge at Hiwan. Along the way he and Karen welcomed a son, Danny, to their family, and a daughter, Jessica. And when the last of his original partners finally retired about eight years ago, Ted became the principal of one of Evergreen’s most respected legal practices, Sells Law Firm, and the mountain area’s go-to counsel in matters of real estate, commerce and estate planning.
Long before that, however, Ted had already quietly established himself as one of the community’s most active volunteers. He’s twice been president of the Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce during his 30-year association with that organization, and he’s served two six-year terms on the board of Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice. And he’s been a tireless champion of the area’s younger residents through his unstinting support of two low-profile organizations that rank high among kid-centric causes. The first is Forest Heights Lodge, a nationally respected residential treatment facility that for more than 50 years has been providing essential help and hope to troubled boys ages 6 to 16.
“It’s an incredible resource in this community,” Ted says. “Many of those kids go on to be doctors and lawyers and state senators. A lot of times they just come from terrible family situations. Forest Heights gets them out of there, and gets them well.”
The second is Evergreen Benefactors, a local nonprofit that has supplied vital support to Evergreen Bootstraps, the Camp Comfort program for bereaved children, and, most recently, the Conifer High School Building Trades Program. Composed of Sells, Dave Graham and Phil Shanley, the child-centered charity was originally founded when Jeffco Schools slammed the door on community-based vocational training.
“Vocational-track kids are every bit as smart as college-track kids, and there are wonderful careers to be had in the building trades.”
It was a hard fight, but thanks to persistence and a sympathetic change of R-1 leadership, Evergreen Benefactors was at last able to launch its Building Trades program at CHS two years ago. Two years later, the proven concept is growing faster than its beautiful project house in Valley Hi.
“One of the best things about the program is that it’s completely self-sustaining,” Ted explains. “We’ve already been approached by schools in Golden and Arvada that want to start their own building trades programs.”
Ted spends off hours the way a lot of his Evergreen neighbors do. He and Karen enjoy cycling on the road and off of it, and with a townhouse in Beaver Creek they manage to put in 40 to 50 days on the slopes each year. Ted’s also an avid golfer, which avocation recently found him in decidedly unexpected company.
Whilst chasing the pill around Scotland’s hallowed St. Andrews last month, he was fortunate to spend the first day enjoying the peerless services of an internationally-esteemed caddy named Graham. When Ted asked Graham if he’d be available for a second day’s duty, the world-class caddy apologetically declined, explaining that he’d be engaged with a “mystery foursome.” As it happened ‘pon the morrow, when Ted’s party came within hailing distance of the anonymous duffers, Graham hailed him.
“He wanted to introduce me to the guy he was caddying for,” Ted laughs. “It was Barack Obama.”
While ancient Scottish golf courses are great for celebrity sightings, Ted Sells still prefers his Colorado home for just about everything else.
“I feel very lucky to be able to live and work in Evergreen,” he says. “I like the community, and I like the people here. This is a very special place.”