by Greta Hanson Maurer
Bob Purvis' gravely voice and mischievous smile still light up his face when he talks about his wife Faye, his beloved extended family, and recalling highlights of his 90 years. Bob is a bit of a legend in these parts, because of his family’s Riding Stables, his uncanny ability to get just about any piece of machinery running, and his easy laugh. Bob also possesses a gift for connecting with people, and has always gravitated towards helping his community out. One time, his fierce determination rendered him temporarily blind—after attempting to plow a road for two days, in the middle of an epic snowstorm that cut the Beulah area off from Pueblo—while trying to save the life of a young boy suffering from an appendicitis. Yea, he's kind of a big deal.
Born May 29, 1928 to Cliff and Helen (Church) Purvis, in Chicago, IL. As a one year old in 1929, Bob called Beulah 'Home' before he even had one, as his mother and father initially lived in a tent just off Northcreek Road, by the Custer County line. Mark Belcher, a nearby rancher offered up his chicken coop for improved housing knowing winter was near. The family moved to a cabin on their existing property in 1933 off Central Avenue—Bob and Faye still live there, today.
Widely known throughout the area for their Riding Stables, the Purvis family created a destination for popular fun in 1935—an opportunity to travel the mountains, get outside, learn how to ride a horse by heading out on a trail. Bob managed the feeding and caring for 18-25 horses, while attending school. He took over the horseshoeing when he was ‘big enough’. He left for the big city for a short time, working for Western Union Telegraph in Denver shortly before he met Faye.
Faye Purvis’ bright demeanor, and easy laugh lights up her comfortable kitchen. Her recollection for details of a full life were as riveting as the thickly frosted two-layered chocolate cake perched in reverence on a glass cake stand. Gratefully, the gracious hostess cut a thick wedge of the moist cake, and the interview was able to continue.
Born Wanda Faye Atkinson, Faye Purvis was born to Edith Belle Dobson and Ernest Lyle Atkinson on May 26, 1926 in Fargo, OK. She was the eighth of 11 kids, and recalls commuting to school on a horse for two years. Her family initially found their way to Palisades by picking and canning peaches during the Depression years. As a young woman, Faye held jobs as an elevator operator at the Colorado Building in Pueblo, and later, during WWII for CF&I, noting that she 'lost her job to men the day the war was over,' but it was okay by her.
Faye and Bob met at a dance on 7th Street in Pueblo in 1945 at a place where dance competitions were all the rage. Smitten with each other, they became engaged shortly thereafter, and soon married on August 1, 1946. Faye immediately started helping out at the Purvis Riding Stables.
William (Billy) was born July 1948, and his sister Debbie came along four years later in June 1952. Adamant that their kids would grow up knowing what hard work was all about, they kept the family stable business going through the kids’ teenage years. Each had chores and responsibilities at a young age. Horses were rented for $1/hour, and the business was insured by Lloyds of London.
It wasn’t always work for the Purvis family, they also knew something about having fun. Bob and Faye were a part of the early gymkhanas held just east of the GayWay (Songbird), and headed up by locals Buster Davis and Jimmy Armstrong. Bob and Faye put their horses through their paces once or twice a week while practicing for the mounted quadrille (square dancing on horseback). The young family of four participated actively in the Beulah Valley Saddle Club events, which included award-winning Colorado State Fair Parades entries. Their kids went with them to dances at the GayWay, Faye remarked, “whatever we did, the kids did with us!”
Bob worked primarily as an electrician throughout his career, employed for 35 years at Pueblo's CF&I Steel Corporation in the Coke Plant and Rail Mill. His ingenuity and pragmatic ways lent themselves to a host of grateful people who relied on Bob to solve their problems—whether being credited for keeping CF&I running because of his deep knowledge as an electrician; or getting a water pump running again for a local guy.
Faye was a longtime Beulah School bus driver, and lucky for the community, she was just the woman for the job. Her no-nonsense approach to kid's safety and nerves of steel and in questionable roads with a 10-ton bus meant kids always arrived home safely. Faye has been a seamstress her whole life, and taught many a youngster how to sew. She sewed for the Beulah Valley Saddle Club, contributing to the cohesive outfits worn by the riders.
The 'Good Ole Hayrides by Bob Purvis,” starting in the 1950s through the 1970s. Bob would hitch his hay wagon to his John Deere tractor and drive all around the Beulah Valley with a load of happy people. A big social event where everyone would meet up, climb aboard, sitting with legs dangling over the side or atop a hay bale placed in the center of the wagon. All ages would enjoy conversations, likely horseplay, and possibly a stolen kiss. The tractor chugged away, while the scenery unfolded slowly. There were probably a few who poured a warm drink from a red tartan plaid thermos. Nobody was in a hurry, and nobody was consulting a phone.
Bob’s common sense approach to problems produced genius hacks—he passed this gift to his son, Bill, as well as his grandson Cale; both are known to possess a rare skill set when it comes to keeping machinery running.
This mechanical talent comes in handy with the Purvis families’ 60 year history of making hay in several of the most picturesque hayfields of the Beulah Valley. Over the years, the job has been accomplished by the collective efforts of three generation, including Bob, Faye, Billy and grandson Cale. Working unbelievably long hours, in a range of weather conditions, the family plows, plants, irrigates, weeds, cuts, rakes, bales and stacks a whole of premium hay. A fourth generation of hay farmers are already in place, as Cale’s children, Caleb, Chloe and Colton can now be seen tagging along in the fields, and learning how the job is done.
Bob and Faye joked that they “only had two kids’, and now count seven grandkids and 19 great grandchildren!
Son Billy, who worked for Meadow Gold Dairy much of his career has four children including, Jodie (Kelly) Bond who live in Avondale and have two children, Kelby and Tyler; Crystal Bensik who lives in Colorado City, children Aspen, Wiley and Payton; Craigin (Scott) Patterson who lives in Oregon with children Lauren, Kaylan and Cait; and Cale (Kari) Purvis who lives in Beulah with three children Caleb, Chloe and Colton.
Daughter Debbie Marroney, who worked for the Colorado State Lottery as an accountant and now volunteers for Sangre de Cristo Hospice. She has two girls, Cari (Brent) Dexter of Ft. Lupton, and children Nevaeh, Matheas and Nala Faye; and Kindi (Matt) Medina of Beulah and children Elijah, Evin and Emory.
When asked about the key to their 72-year marriage, Faye quickly responded with a big smile, "I wouldn't leave, and he wouldn't either." However, it is clear to see the couple has a formula that works. They each bring individual strengths to their marriage, creating an unbreakable bond through hard work, shared goals, the love of family and good fun—a legacy treasured for generations to come.
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