Receiving a memorable parting gift for service

Southwest Life

Ann Butler

Current Columnist


Phone Number: (970) 375-4584

Receiving a memorable parting gift for service

Joel Jones congratulates Meredith Mapel for becoming a member of First National Bank of Durango’s board of directors at a reception at the bank.

People stopping by First National Bank of Durango’s main branch on Valentine’s Day must have thought their bank goes all out for the holiday.

But the decorations and goodies were really meant to honor two of the bank’s board members who were stepping down, Joel Jones and Durango Herald Publisher Richard Ballantine. Jones had been on the board for 24 years, Ballantine for 11.

First National is one of the great institutions in Durango, and it was founded almost at the same time as Durango itself. And since its earliest days, some of Durango’s best known and most civically minded residents have served on the bank’s board of directors. Jones and Ballantine are no exception.

Jones was required to step down after reaching the august age of 75, an inviolable First National rule. Ballantine, as you may have heard last week, is lightening his load of responsibilities. His resignation created a bit more history however, as this is the first time since 1955 that a Ballantine is not serving on the bank’s board.

First to take a seat in the boardroom was Arthur Ballantine, Richard’s father, then his mother, Morley Ballantine, settled in after her husband’s untimely death in 1975.

Tom Fitzgerald, the majority stockholder in the bank, decided to honor his two departing board members in a most appropriate way. Jones served as Fort Lewis College president for a decade from 1988 to 1998, and Ballantine served as the president of FLC’s Board of Trustees, stepping down in 2012. It’s easy to say the college is one of their favorite places in town.

So Fitzgerald said he almost gave Mark Daigle, the president of the bank, a heart attack when he announced he wanted to give a check for $35,000 to the Fort Lewis College Foundation to honor their collective 35 years of service.

It’s not that the bank isn’t one of our community’s most generous donors, it’s just that the bank generally spreads the giving around a little more.

On hand to receive the lollapalooza of a check were FLC President Dene Kay Thomas, Foundation Executive Director Margie Deane Gray and Center of Southwest Studies Director Jay Harrison.

The reception also was an opportunity to introduce the new board member, Meredith Mapel, general manager of Coca-Cola Durango-Farmington. She is also the first woman to be elected president of the Mainstream Council representing independent bottling companies in the U.S., which her father, Don Mapel, helped found.

Jones joked that the bank only needed to appoint one woman to replace two men, and Steve Short, chairman of First National’s board, came up with the groaner (sorry, Steve) that she should have no problem learning the banking business because both it and Coca-Cola are in “liquid assets.” (You were warned it was a groaner, and yet you insisted on continuing to read. I bear no responsibility here whatsoever.)

Mapel probably has the best singing voice of anyone ever appointed to the board, as attendees at the San Juan Symphony’s “Back to the Future” concert on Feb. 17 can attest. Mapel had a career as an actress and singer before coming home to Durango to work her way up in the family biz. (Her mother, Sandra Mapel, laughs and says at least now she has benefits.)

First National is saying farewell to two class acts and getting one smart cookie in exchange. Not bad for any ledger entry.


Just because their birthdays are after Valentine’s Day, that’s no excuse for giving them chocolates that were on sale for Jeff Thulson, Ryan Phelps, Bev Sinclair, Nik Stransky, Ken Seay, Connie Mahan, Griff Pickard, Linda Arndt, Gary Scott and DeAnne Wells.

Special greetings go to those folks who aren’t really celebrating because their birthdate isn’t even on the calendar this year – the Feb. 29thers Ted Holteen, David Smith, Mark S. Anderson and Robby Hoffman.


While I’m thinking about Joel Jones, his stepson, also known as Philip Mann, will be conducting the New Mexico Philharmonic at 2 p.m. Sunday at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th St. SW in Albuquerque.

Maestro Mann is the son of Fort Lewis College music professor emerita Rochelle Mann, and I have had the pleasure of following his career from his becoming Durango’s first ever Rhodes Scholar to his selection as the music director of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

At Sunday’s concert, he will be conducting Rossini’s Overture to the “Barber of Seville,” Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major with guest clarinetist James Shields and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 in C Major.

Tickets range from $35 to $68 and are available by calling (505) 724-4771 or by going online to

Road trip, anyone?


About 30 women gathered at Fiesta Mexicana on Feb. 18 for a joint birthday celebration for Carol Treat and Mary Husemoller. The ladies requested no gifts, but that didn’t stop their friends from coming up with something special.

Cindy Cortese dressed as Husemoller, Dana Wilson did her best Treat impersonation and Deborah Uroda introduced them for two skits – “B.M. or Before Medicare” and “D.W.M. – Dealing with Medicare.” (You can add your own punchlines here, because there’s no shortage in either category.)

I’m not sure why Medicare was the theme because they were just turning 55 again, so they’re way too young to worry.

Cissy Anderson has proved to have a hidden talent when it comes to writing situation-specific poetry, and she brought the house down with her poem for the day.

Many happy returns of the day to both of you. I have a feeling you were laughing all the way home.


Hoping to cuddle in front of an open fire for their anniversaries are Reid and Sari Ross (62!), Ollie and Jan Mallett and Dallas and Olivia Reynolds.

Very special greetings go to Clifford “Angel” and Rosemary Farfel, who celebrated their 68th anniversary Tuesday. She took the train from Denver to Kearney, Neb., where they were married before a justice of the peace. Just a few hours later, her groom flew off to fight in the air war in the Pacific. Angel says the marriage has lasted because his wife has one philosophy: “Divorce, no. Murder, yes.” If that doesn’t encourage a man to be on his best behavior, I don’t know what will!


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Receiving a memorable parting gift for service

Joel Jones congratulates Meredith Mapel for becoming a member of First National Bank of Durango’s board of directors at a reception at the bank.
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