Leaving a legacy | SteamboatToday.com

Leaving a legacy

First female city official retires to spend more time with family

Edna Tellier, bottom left, gets to spend more time on her ranch with her grandsons, clockwise from top left, Chase, Colin and Ryan Drennan, now that she has retired from a 35-year career with the City of Steamboat Springs.
Brian Ray

— In November 1973, the town of Steamboat Springs adopted a home rule charter and became a city, James Golden ended his term as the town’s last mayor, candidates ran for the first City Council, and Edna Drennan became Steamboat’s first female city official.

A lot has changed since then.

During the next three decades, Edna Drennan would become Edna Tellier and raise a son. Computers would move into the workplace, a thriving tourism economy would cause Steamboat to grow like gangbusters and traffic would become an issue on Lincoln Avenue. City Hall would move at least four times, Tellier would become a grandmother, and more than 1,000 people would shuffle in and out of city employment.

As the city’s payroll technician, Tellier would come to know hundreds of those people by name. Now, for the first time in the city’s history, preparing paychecks will be somebody else’s job.

Tellier, 61, retired this month after 35 years of service – a longer tenure than any current city employee.

“For most of my life, I’ve worked a double-shift,” said Tellier. “Right now, I want to relax and recoup. I’m ready to slow down some.”

Tellier, a blond-haired woman with sharp blue eyes, is quiet in a way that speaks volumes. In a way that says she has seen a lot during decades in Routt County.

Tellier was born in downtown Steamboat Springs in 1945, at a hospital that is now the Old Pilot Building on Lincoln Avenue. She grew up on her family’s ranch in rural Routt County, where she planted potatoes, tended chickens, cows and cattle, fixed fences, irrigated and put up hay every year.

“I’m one of the few people who can still remember pitching bundles of grain into a threshing machine,” Tellier said. “We would mow and rake with a team of horses.”

She graduated from Steamboat Springs High School in 1963.

Tellier, an avid horsewoman, now lives on the ranch off Routt County Road 35 that she has worked and called home since 1977.

Her co-workers at the city offices say Tellier brought her ranching mentality to work, either physically – she often took up four parking spaces with a 20-foot trailer – or conversationally.

“Edna was always straight to the point,” said Jim Weber, Steamboat’s director of public works. “There is no bull—- with her.”

Weber said that while his workdays often start at 7 a.m., Tellier nearly always beat him to the office.

“She would get to work at about 6:30, and be cutting a grapefruit in the kitchen when I walked in,” Weber said. “The aroma of citrus was always coming out of the kitchen in the morning.”

Transportation director George Krawzoff said Tellier was always “very helpful, solution-oriented and a friend.”

“She was very helpful to me at every turn,” Krawzoff said. “It’s a tough job, because there are so many rules to live by in the city’s payroll system.”

Krawzoff’s department alone has about 60 employees in the winter. Many of those are seasonal, parttime or on-call – all requiring different pay scales.

Tellier said during her years on the job, the city’s staff grew from 45 to about 325.

While the city’s scope of work grew, technology changed and staff roles became increasingly specialized, Tellier said she held to a constant philosophy about keeping work separate from home.

“I tried to keep my mouth shut, listen and not bring personal problems into work – or take them home with me,” Tellier said. “I tried to marry the job when I walked in and divorce it when I walked out.”

City Clerk Julie Jordan said she “hopes to live up to the high integrity that Edna has always portrayed.”

“I’ve been with the city almost 20 years, and I’ve worked with Edna for the duration,” Jordan said. “She’s a very dedicated city employee. I’m kind of following in her footsteps, since she was the first clerk. Her love for this community : that’s a lesson in itself.”

Jordan said Tellier was a valuable reference for questions about how Steamboat became a city.

“Her historical knowledge is so valuable. She was there when the charter was created, so she can walk you through our forefathers’ thoughts,” Jordan said.

Tellier, who spent Friday afternoon picnicking with her grandchildren, said she is looking forward to spending more time with her family and on the ranch.

“I’ll miss the (city) job, but I’m ready for a change,” Tellier said. “I don’t look at this as retirement – I look at it as a new chapter in my life.”

– To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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