Bill Hower gestures an easy wave to ‘come on in’, his tall frame rising up from a chair for a greeting. The view from his neatly kept home is stunning–a gradient of greens rising from the hay fields, to the pines, on up 12-mile, and finally to the magnificent Greenhorn.
William Charles Hower, Sr. was born in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1934, and moved to Beulah with his uncle Theodore Isaac and aunt Lucille (Breit) Graves when he was four years old. He shares a photo of the 1936 Ford pickup they drove to Beulah in 1938, “It was a long, long trip, and there was no room to move!”
With high hopes for farming, they initially settled at the “Easley Place” on Waterbarrel Road (the big red barn on the hill, now owned by Poysti family), then moved to a home just north of the Cedar Grove School on 3-R Road, and again to Pine Drive. During World War II, the family lost a vital corn crop to hail, and moved to a garage in Pueblo. Bill’s uncle began working at CF&I, and his aunt at the Canning Center, a project sponsored by Pueblo Jr. College and the State Board of Vocational Education.
Lucille’ sister and Bill’s mother, Marguerite Eileen Breit moved to Colorado, working in the dining room and lunch counter as a supervisor for Denver and Rio Grande Rail Road at the Pueblo Union Depot for 25 years. When Bill was asked if it was confusing to have never lived with his mother (his parent’s separated shortly after he was born), he responded ‘It was only confusing for others, but not me. Sometimes I was called Bill Graves.”
Bill’s father William Harold Hower never left Missouri. He was a truck driver, and re-married; he and his second wife had five children. Bill did not meet his half-siblings until he was 25 years old. He is quick to mention that his half-sister Sharon Hower Kirkendoll stayed with him in Beulah for a month in 2017 while he recovered from heart failure. A registered nurse, she helped him grow strong enough to have one of his heart valves replaced.
Most photos of Bill as a youngster show him in hats, likely the result of his doting aunt. He well remembers attending the Cedar Grove school as a first grader, Beulah School as a second grader, and back to Cedar Grove for third grade.
His buddies growing up in Beulah were Norman and Darryl Clark, Tommy Bennett, Raymond Youngren, Bob Reynolds and Carl Fifield who lived in the ranger station. He noted that Norman (who would become Beulah’s local Deputy) took his gun to school to hunt rabbits on the way home, which was perfectly acceptable in those days.
Chores as a kid for Bill included carrying water from the pump to the house and carrying wood for the stove. “We had milk cows, chickens, geese, pigs, turkeys and a duck.” He said growing up his biggest offense was throwing a rock at a goose, and accidentally killing it. “I got into trouble for that one!”
Bill recalls playing up and down Pine Drive—riding bikes, swimming in the creek, hiking up Signal Mountain. “Bob Reynolds and I used to take our wagons (in the summer) and sleds (in the winter) to just about the top of Sugarloaf [the big hill with the flag at the top that overlooks Pine Drive], we came down really fast!” See photo on this page of Bill with his wagon–a thick pillow gave him greater purchase, and the wheels look substantial, capable of bearing the brunt of the rocks, and branches that surely littered the way down.
His Aunt forbid him to ride his bike down the larger Beulah Hill, unimproved and still dirt, but that didn’t stop him. He noted that he would often receive rides home from school from neighbors.
As a youngster, he knew how to have fun, but he also pitched in to help the family. His first job was at the 5 years old, Bill watched young chicks in the brooder, separating their huddling masses to avoid smothering. He cleaned the chicken house, hoed the weeds, and worked in the garden. “I was the one who had to straighten up the house while my aunt and uncle worked.”
After moving to Pueblo, he attended Central Grade School, Parkhill on the east side, and then on to Centennial High School. The family started the Ted Graves Poultry Farm, and Bill delivered chickens on his bike. They also raised gladiolas and iris, selling them to local florists. In 1945, he recalls celebrating the end of WWII by blowing whistles, and watching P38’s fly over his home.
As a teen, Bill worked for a chicken hatchery after school, and in the summer for local farmers threshing, and putting up hay. He lived in the Bennets Cheese Factory one summer.
He learned how to drive a Ford tractor when he was 14, “they just put me on it and said ‘drive!” Just two years later, he gathered up his hard-earned pay and bought a 1940 two-door Ford sedan with a v-8.
“When I got out of high school, I was a driver for 7-UP bottling company. Then I found a position as a machinist apprentice at the Rio Grande Railroad. Bill went to Vocational College, specifically looking for classes that coincided with his work. After the round house closed down, he went back to work for 7-UP, then to Rainbow Bread.
He met his late wife Cleone at the movie theater where she was working in the ticket booth, Bill was 19 years old. “She had other boyfriends at the time, but I was persistent.” They were engaged in January 1954, “She was very attractive, had a good work ethic, and was very intelligent,” and married in March of 1954. Cleone was named the first woman manager of a branch bank (Majestic Savings) in the state of Colorado in the 1970’s.
The Howers moved in to their first home in Pueblo’s Belmont area, welcoming Darla (born December 1954), and Bill (born June 1956). “I worked for Alpha Beta Packing Company as a millwright, a boiler fireman and a stationary engineer.” He learned about plumbing, electricity and steam; even managing the credit union for six years! Skills that would come in handy during his tenure on Beulah Water Works District board.” When Alpha Beta closed, Bill started a lawn repair business, and worked at the City Park Golf Course.
Bill and Cleone moved their family to Beulah in 1966, building a yellow stucco home on 120 acres along the north side of Highway 78 West near Waterbarrel cut-off. The kids attended Beulah School.
In 1984, Bill shifted his focus, and talents to become a Real Estate agent, selling homes in Pueblo County for 11 years. In 1990, as empty-nesters, the couple would move to the Grand Avenue house.
After “retiring”, he volunteered his talents as chairman of the Beulah Water Works District for 20 years. Bill was instrumental in erecting the massive storage tank on the hill. And he negotiated with the Dairy Farmer’s of America to truck in water to Beulah in 2002, at no charge. He rode in the cab of the semi on the day the water was delivered!
Today, Bill enjoys playing his guitar, watching deer, keeping up with his yard, and lawn mower. His daughter Darla lives just about a mile away; they visit often–shopping online, going to appointments, or attending church together. Bill’s grandson Matt Mader (Darla’s son) lives with him and attends CSU-Pueblo.
Bill finds great joy and peace in Beulah, gesturing to the Valley and saying “This is my place!” He is a prime example of how a loving family, strong work ethic, considerable talents, and living in Beulah truly is the key to a wonderful life.