Gallegos `Citizen of the Year’
When the Vail Valley Foundation chose its Vail Valley “Citizen of the Year” this year, it chose someone with local roots as deep as they grow.
The award will be presented to the hard-working and humble Gerald Gallegos, who brings durable fabric to the warp and woof of the award winners. Over the last three decades, he and his family have built a multi-million dollar corporation from scratch.
A Minturn native, Gallegos, 53, is co-owner and founder of the Gallegos Corporation, a five-office, multi-state masonry, plastering, stone, concrete and quarrying company with 500 employees, based in Wolcott.
He started in the masonry business more than 30 years ago as a hod carrier for a local contractor, and by 1970 started his own company.
Gallegos is being recognized for his contribution of time, effort and leadership to the community through the Vail Valley Foundation and through other youth organizations.
“When people in this valley think of Gerald, I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind is his business success through the Gallegos Corporation,” said Vail Valley Foundation president Ceil Folz. “What a lot of people don’t know is just how committed he is to the youth of this community and making sure that our children have every opportunity to succeed.”
Gallegos is president-elect of the Vail Valley Youth Foundation and has spent time reading to children and passing out holiday treats on the organization’s Magic Bus Tour.
Current Youth Foundation President “Chupa” Nelson said Gallego’s success stems from his own tight-knit family.
“He treats his employees like family and he’s really good with them,
Nelson said. “He has drawn so much strength from his family.”
Gallegos said he knows about that first-hand.
“I donate time because I feel the need and passion to give back,” he said. “I like to give to the underprivileged who don’t have the opportunities to participate like other children do. It’s fulfilling to inspire the younger people to reach their goals.”
“As youngsters we didn’t have the opportunities to participate,” he said. “It’s important to me that I lend a helping hand along the way.”
He also helps pack and distribute computers and teaches children how to use them through the Computers To Kids program. He is active in the annual Bike-Giveaway, the Vail Valley Foundation’s board of directors and education committee.
“I’ve been on the Magic Bus Tour in the trailer parks, and it’s gratifying to watch the kids run out to check out books,” he said.
Gallegos said he’s involved in a number of organizations, including youth hockey, soccer and the Youth and Vail Valley Foundations. He estimates he spends 30 percent of his work time volunteering.
Serving on the Vail Valley Foundation’s board, he said, has been a learning experience for Gallegos.
“It’s an honor to be in the same circle and on the same board as a former president and with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies,” he said. “It’s a learning experience. It’s all about timing and opportunities and location and opportunities that present themselves. I think the youth of today are the future. We need to give them all the help they can get,” he said.
The Citizen of the Year Award was established in 1981 to honor individuals that have made a difference in the community through leadership and good will. Earlier recipients include President Gerald Ford, Pepi Gramshammer, Pete Seibert, Dr. Richard Steadman, Gilbert Giordano and Judy Alexander. For a time, there were two Citizen of the Year Awards from the Vail Public Library and the Vail Valley Foundation but in 1996 were merged into a single award. One of the early awards was the Hornblower Award.
This year the Foundation will present its Citizen of the Year Award Saturday at the black tie Black Diamond Ball at the Ritz-Carlton in Bachelor Gulch. Also being honored at the ball is Barbara Treat, a former Citizen of the Year being recognized as Volunteer of the Year.
Ironically, the Ritz-Carlton is one of the few buildings in Beaver Creek the Gallegos Corporation did not have a hand in building.
Gallegos and his wife, Suzanne, live in Edwards with their two daughters Hillary and Caroline. The Gallegos Corporation has offices in Wolcott, Aspen, Telluride, Denver and Sun Valley, Idaho. The company has construction projects in nearly a dozen states across the country.
Much of the early growth of the company occurred with the development of Beaver Creek in the early 1980s.
Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555 ext 450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.