Roger Behler | VailDaily.com
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Roger Behler

Caramie Schnell

There aren’t too many people that you run into anymore that have only worked for one company for their entire career. Roger Behler is one of those rare people.”The interesting thing that I think about me, is I’ve really only had one full-time job in my whole life. My senior year at Boulder I went to work for FirstBank as a part-time teller. My twin daughters had just been born so I needed to provide for them. I went full-time when I graduated.”Roger eventually ended up running the data processing center for FirstBank until 1977. Then he received a phone call on a Sunday evening.”They wanted to know if I’d come to Vail. They had lost an officer, he had quit overnight, so I came up in March of 1977 on a three-month assignment and have been here ever since.”When Roger started at FirstBank of Vail he was one of only three officers there at the time and there were other FirstBank locations in Vail, Minturn and Lionshead. Just three years later, in 1980, Roger was promoted to president of the Vail bank and its branches; from there he watched FirstBank expand farther and farther downvalley, with banks opening in Avon, Beaver Creek, Edwards and Eagle over the next few decades.Just over four years ago, Roger became president of both FirstBank of Vail and FirstBank of Avon. He now oversees the two banks and their branches.”When I took over both banks it was a pretty significant change, it’s been a whole different management style,” Roger says. “When I was just at Vail I was much more involved in the day-to-day operations, meeting people, doing loans and such. Now with the two different banks, and all of the branches, it’s easy to get tied up for awhile.”Roger says he misses some of the face-to-face contact, but likes seeing all the people at the various banks and being involved that way.”I’m a big supporter of change though,” he says. “You can get into kind of a rut at times in your life, and then the floor drops out, or something happens, but if you look at those moments as challenges, than you can learn from them.”Mark Ristow, executive vice president of FirstBank of Vail, has worked with Roger for nearly 24 years and knows him quite well.”Roger has been my boss since 1981. Needless to say, it’s a pretty special relationship when you work with someone that long,” Ristow says. “Outside the bank he’s a great person to socialize with, he’s able to leave work behind very quickly. He’s got a great sense of humor and he’s a bit of a prankster.”Roger grew up in Denver where his father worked at Dow Chemical, which was known back then as Rocky Flats. He attended the University of Colorado at Boulder after high school and graduated in 1971 with a degree in mathematics.Roger says he never really expected to be in Vail longer than the three months that was originally agreed upon, though he’s quite satisfied with how things turned out.”Vail just has a lifestyle that appeals to me, but then Denver is just two hours away so we can enjoy the benefits of a bigger city as well.”Starting about 10 years ago, the company stopped asking me to transfer or to do anything else, that’s been a real nice 10 years of peace between myself and the corporate offices.”As far as family goes, Roger’s is quite blended. He has six children, three of whom are natural twin daughters, Danielle and Joanna, and son Rhet from his first marriage. He also has an adopted son, Jon, from his second marriage and two stepchildren from his third marriage, Eric and Bay. Roger met his current wife, Margo, seven years ago at a friend’s Christmas Eve party.”I’d always known him because a good friend of mine worked at the bank,” Margo remembers. “She had a Christmas Eve party and he kissed me under the mistletoe. I was intimidated, but we laughed so much and he wasn’t so serious as I had always thought he was.”He truly loves this valley, and this town. It really is his heart. He’s just a very kind man with integrity. He cares about people, all aspects of people, from the little person that’s new in the valley to the more well-established business people.”The two were married two years later and now live in Lake Creek with their three black dogs who they affectionately refer to as the “black pack:” Black Jack, Lily and Cherry. Roger’s four grandchildren live in Denver; close enough for he and Margo to see often.”That’s a real nice part of the family for Margo and I,” Roger says. “We love spending time with our grandchildren. All four live in Denver so it’s a little easier. Being our age, we’ll never have natural children together, so having these four little munchkins around is really wonderful. Jake, the youngest, was just with us for four days.”Roger’s years and position within FirstBank have allowed him a vantage point from which he’s seen significant changes throughout the valley.”Back in the old days we used to close for lunch and we would go ski for an hour, and sometimes two, depending on how busy we were. I had a lot of friends on the Vail Ski Patrol. Over the years I enjoyed so much of what Vail had to offer, much more the lifestyle, the freedom, I really enjoyed the outdoors and within the company, Vail was always a really challenging market for us, so from an employment standpoint, I had a lot of opportunities that kept me very satisfied.”Along with the population growth, Roger has watched as Vail’s cultural opportunities have expanded.”I think one nice thing about the growth, is from a cultural standpoint, it has diversified the community and made Vail a special place to be. It’s much more educated than a normal resort town. It’s always amazing to me what Vail is able to pull off, from a community standpoint, whether it be the World Championships, the Vail Memorial Park, or the Vilar Center; for such a small community, (the town) does some major international events and the community gets behind them. The people that live in Eagle County, want to be in Eagle County and because of that desire, the possibilities are endless.” VTCaramie Schnell can be reached for comment at cschnell@vailtrail.com.


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