Longtime State Farm agent invites community to celebration
After spending the past 50 years working for State Farm, Steamboat Springs insurance agent Debbie Aragon is inviting the community to celebrate the milestone with her.
Aragon is hoping people in the Steamboat community will join her from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, June 2, in the parking lot behind 404 Oak St. to celebrate her 50 years with State Farm and 25 years in Steamboat. It is also a chance to recognize the 100th anniversary of State Farm.
The evening will include live music, food, beverages and games.
“I started my State Farm career the day after high school graduation when I was 17,” said Aragon, who started working at a State Farm office in Greeley on May 23, 1972. “I was actually one step up from a file clerk because I had pretty high typing scores (in high school), so they hired me as data entry person versus most everybody else who started at the very bottom as a file clerk.”
At the time, her sister was already working for State Farm, which turned out to be good for Aragon because she was able to apply and get hired before her high school graduation.
“My goal was to work for a few years and save my money to go to school and study to be a teacher,” Aragon said. “I feel like I am a teacher now because I’m teaching people about insurance all day long.”
A few years after starting with State Farm, Aragon took advantage of an accelerated night school program in Loveland that was offered by Regis University.
“At the time, State Farm offered a really good tuition aid program, so I was able to get my degree one class at a time by going through night school courses,” Aragon said. “Ten years later I got my bachelor’s degree in business administration. It took a while, but it was worth it.”
She spent 25 years working in the regional office in Greeley, but was eager to move into a position at an agency. She seemed to be on track to become an agent at a Wyoming location, but fate brought her to Steamboat in 1997, where she took over the local office lead by Melissa Miller at the time. Before that Ralph Selch ran the agency.
“I think that Steamboat was such a perfect place for our family, but when I was going into the agency pool of candidates, you basically had to wait for something to open up,” Aragon said. “I interviewed for two or three openings in Wyoming and two or three in Colorado, and Steamboat was definitely my first choice.”
However, it wasn’t for her boys, who were pulling for Fort Collins with hopes of staying in their home at the time. She nearly ended up in Wyoming after she was selected to take over for a retiring agent.
“That position ended up not opening up because the agent decided he didn’t want to retire,” Aragon said. “I’m glad because we had a nice clean move to Steamboat. We just love the community and how welcoming it is and all the activities that the kids could get involved in … we just instantly got involved with people, and sports, and organizations like the Rotary Club — all the things that really make this a great community.”
Despite not liking the idea of leaving their home in Greeley, when the boys arrived in Steamboat, they discovered the town had plenty to offer. The boys graduated from Steamboat Springs High School and were active in sports for many years.
These days Debbie and her husband of 41 years, John, enjoy traveling to Texas, where her son John, 39, and Jeff, 37, live. Their youngest child Brian, 33, still lives in Steamboat Springs.
When she is not at work, Aragon enjoys hanging out with her seven grandchildren, who range in age from 8 years old to 6 months. The youngest is the family’s only granddaughter.
Aragon loves to hike, bike and tries to get to the Old Town Hot Springs every day. She said she also loves exploring the Sand Wash Basin and photographing wild horses in the family’s Polaris Ranger.
She said she loves being an insurance agent.
“If you know it, and you know it well, it’s something people really respect you for,” Aragon said. “You are helping people understand a complex product that they don’t want to understand, or they don’t want to know everything about. Our job is helping people understand it — or simplifying it — so it makes more sense.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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