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Publish Date: 5/11/2005

Former St. Vrain Valley School Board president LeRoy Schlagel stands outside his farm in 1960.Times-Call file photo

Schlagel helped pave way for Longmont

LONGMONT — LeRoy Schlagel had many titles during his 75 years of life: husband, father and grandfather.

But around Boulder and Weld counties, most people knew him for his energy and dedication as a civic leader.

Schlagel, who died Sunday, was best known for his eight-year stint on the St. Vrain Valley School Board and his role in co-founding the Left Hand Water Supply Co., an organization that provides domestic water to rural families in Boulder and Weld counties.

Born May 28, 1929, in Longmont, Schlagel purchased his first farm in 1948.

He met his wife of 54 years, Alberta, at choir practice for the Christ Congregational Church.

Alberta, who was in junior high school, said she “fell in love at first sight.”

Schlagel was four years older than she. Their courtship went on until she graduated from high school in 1951.

They were married Nov. 4 of that year.

“He was a good husband and a good father, but also he was much interested in civic planning and all other things that went with a community,” she said. “His concern was always to have a good place for everybody to live and live comfortably.

“He was always concerned about water.”

That concern came to a head when Alberta couldn’t finish one load of laundry without emptying the water in the family’s cistern, she said with a laugh.

“He had to put the tank on the truck and go to town to get it refilled,” she said. “It became a huge issue.”

That’s when Schlagel and three other farmers in the Niwot area decided it was time to take water matters into their own hands, and they formed Left Hand Water Supply.

“Their ideas extended into a big corporation. That company is a big company now. ... It really was a great success,” Alberta said.

Schlagel was involved in it for 34 years.

Schlagel graduated from Longmont High School and “from the school of hard knocks, majoring in bumps and bruises,” said his son Gary Schlagel.

LeRoy Schlagel was instrumental in the planning and annexation into Longmont of the Clover Basin neighborhood, between Hover and Airport roads.

He also served on the city of Longmont’s water board, the Chamber of Commerce, the Longmont Jaycees, the Boulder County Farm Bureau, Colorado Cattle Association, Peck Ditch Co. and 4-H-related committees.

During LeRoy’s tenure on the St. Vrain school board, including seven years as president, the district built Longmont High School, Lyons Middle/Senior High School, Niwot High School and Frederick High School. The district also built middle and elementary schools.

“He was someone who looked to the future,” Gary said.

The Schlagel family has been in the area since the early 1900s.

“That’s why he had the opportunity to do these things. When he was around here, the community of Longmont was 25,000 people. There were lots of places to go then,” Gary said. “Now, everybody has their one little job they do, but when he was around, everybody did everything.”

Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Rocky Mountain Christian Church. Donations are being accepted in his name at the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association.

Paula Aven Gladych can be reached at 303-684-5211, or by e-mail at pavengladych@times-call.com.

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