Sam Haslem, Routt County icon, dies
The Northwest Colorado community on Thursday was mourning the loss of Sam Haslem, an agriculture educator who loved people and had a unique way of telling a story.
Haslem, 85, died Wednesday night after having a heart attack while eating Christmas dinner with family at a Steamboat Springs restaurant.
“He was a real gem in our part of the country,” said Kris Hammond, who was in the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs with Haslem for 28 years. “We’re going to miss him a lot.”
Haslem was born in Vernal, Utah, and spent summers at the Blue Mountain cow camp in Jensen. He attended school in a one-room schoolhouse in Dinosaur National Park and graduated from Colorado State University.
Haslem served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and spent his career as a CSU extension agent. He became Routt County’s extension agent in 1970 and educated farmers and ranchers on the best ways to grow crops and raise livestock.
“He always has been the go-to person if someone had a question,” said C.J. Mucklow, who is the western regional director for the extension office.
When Haslem would speak, people would listen, and he’d get his point across.
“When he stood up to talk, you never knew where the guy was going to go,” Hammond said.
After retiring as the extension agent, Haslem stayed busy. In addition to Rotary, he was heavily involved in the Hayden Lions Club, Hayden Congregational Church, Yampa Valley Electric Association, American Legion, Free Masons, Civil Air Patrol and numerous agriculture groups, including the Routt County Cattlemen’s Association and the Routt County Fair.
Haslem was also a bit of a jokester.
His business card was famous. It read: “My Card. I am somewhat of a (BS’er) myself, but occasionally I like to listen to a PROFESSIONAL. PLEASE CARRY ON!”
Replicas of Haslem’s original card were at every place setting in the Steamboat Springs Community Center on May 14, 2014, as more than 150 gathered to roast him.
During the roast, Hammond stood up to describe how fussy Haslem could be.
“One Rotary meeting, Sam stopped the meeting and said, ‘The flag is in the wrong place. The American flag should be on the speaker’s right and the Colorado flag should be on the left.’ So we stopped the meeting and moved the flags around,” Hammond recalled. “A week later, I was trying a case in court and noticed the American flag was on the left of the witness stand. I told Judge Garrecht the flags were in the wrong place.
“He asked, ‘Who told you that?’ and I said, ‘Sam Haslem told me that.’ And that’s how I got my (business) card from Sam.”
Larry Covillo, retired longtime manager of Yampa Valley Electric Association, on whose board Haslem served for many years, regaled the audience with tales of Haslem’s prodigious appetite for beef.
“One year, we went to Wichita, Kansas, for a director’s conference, and Sam said he had visited a restaurant there 20 years ago and they had the best beef in town,” Covillo said. “We looked it up, and it was still there. It was one of those places where you pick the size of your steak. And I’ll bet you he ordered a 30-ounce steak.
“Now Sam was a guy who was taught growing up to clean his plate,” Covillo continued. “I don’t know how he choked down the last bite of that steak, but I can tell you there wasn’t any bread left on his plate either.”
Haslem is survived by his wife, Louise, four children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“Obviously, the family is in shock,” Haslem’s son Richard Haslem said. “We will pull through this.”
A memorial service was being planned for Monday.
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