Stanbro, Donald Cameron

Written by Karen Groves on .

Don Stanbro

(1932 - 2002)

Don Stanbro was a popular businessman in the mountain area who became the fourth area resident to serve as Jefferson County Commissioner. 

Born and raised in Springville, NY, Don joined the U.S. Navy out of high school. He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in political science in 1958 and went to work in New York City.

He and his wife, Bonnie, lived in Yonkers, NY; Duxbury, MA; Canandaigua Lake, NY and Monmouth Hills, NJ.

Bonnie said, “Don grew tired of corporate life.” Enchanted by the scenes in a Warren Miller ski film, they moved to Colorado in 1967.

Don worked for the Van Schaack Real Estate office in Evergreen from 1968 until 1974, when he opened his own business: Stanbro Real Estate and subsequently had several branches. The motto was: “We Love Evergreen!”

According to their daughter Shannon Stanbro, who followed her father’s profession, their home was a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired house designed by her mother and Bill Marshall, one of “The Woodpeckers,” local cabinetmakers turned home builders in Evergreen during the early sixties. Shannon said she considered their work an example of some of the town’s most unique mid-century homes.

As Don expanded his real estate business, the Stanbro name was visible all over town: Main Street, the Hiwan Golf Club entrance, Lookout Mountain and Idaho Springs. Bonnie recalled that a billboard greeted visitors with this message: “We Love Mountain Living!”

He served on the Evergreen Scholarship Association, the pre-cursor to Bootstraps, and was a senior instructor in the University of Colorado’s graduate Realtor® program.

The Stanbro name remains a recognizable one in real estate businesses today. However, it was in the early eighties that Evergreen businessmen Ross Grimes and Bill Ackerman came to Don and encouraged him to run as a candidate for District 3 Jefferson County Commissioner. In the previous decade, Evergreen had grown about 300 percent, having added 10,000 year-round residents, a pattern that would repeat itself in subsequent decades, adding another 10,000 residents in the ‘80s and yet again in the ‘90s. Decisions on development were being made by flatlanders, and Evergreen wanted more say in those decisions.

There wasn’t much time to run a campaign since he didn’t enter the race until June of 1982. His wife and loyal supporters propelled the Republican into a win in the primary race with 1,100 more votes than his opponent, Davey Jones. Don took over Jim Martin’s seat, (another Evergreenite) who decided not to run for re-election.  What followed for Stanbro was four years in the county commissioner’s limelight.

The mid- to late eighties were a time of forseeable change. Don, with the other two commissioners, Rich Ferdinandsen and Marjorie Clement, would deal with protests from citizens over new tax assessments. Open Space negotiations drew interest as did a proposed art center at Elk Meadow. There were differing opinions about a radio tower on Mt. Morrison and industrial zoning. Citizen ire was a hot issue after commissioners approved building a new government facility in Golden — known anecdotally as the “Taj Mahal.”

A 1986 mill levy for the library passed and the Master Plan for Evergreen was adopted. Citizen groups were formed to monitor area land use and architecture. The local paper included opinions on incorporation and an editor mused on the need for five commissioners instead of three.

Through it all Don remained optimistic. He told one group: “If you can’t tell by now that I love my job, well, call me.” According to reports, he expressed some frustration with “the general distrust many people feel toward elected officials.”

But, he said, “I’m a people person and politics is a people business.” In 1989, he and his wife, Bonnie, relocated to Englewood, Florida, where they opened Stanbro Travel. Don died there in 2002.

Bonnie said his legacy is his personality. “Everyone enjoyed being with him and he thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to serve the community.”

Shannon commented on her father’s engaging nature. “My father absolutely adored the Evergreen community and all the people he got to know living and working there.”

In a scrapbook collection that spans Don’s time in Evergreen, a notice from First National Bank, Evergreen, reads: “We’re proud to have Don Stanbro as a personal and business customer.” It lists his accomplishments:

  • Evergreen Kiwanis Club, President
  • Evergreen Chamber of Commerce, President (two years) and board member
  • Evergreen Chamber of Commerce, Chairman
  • United Fund Business Development, Chairman
  • United Methodist Church, building committee chairman
  • Georgetown Historical Society, board member
  • Jefferson County School Commission for Future Business Leaders of America
  • Evergreen Scholarship Association, vice president
  • Board of Directors Evergreen Bi-Centennial Association
  • Evergreen Board of Realtors
  • Little League Basketball Coach
  • Instigated Evergreen map and “Ever Exciting Evergreen” magazine

Sources: Interviews with Bonnie Stanbro and Shannon Stanbro, Canyon Courier; Evergreen: Our Mountain Community;