Glenwood Springs community remembers ‘generous businessman’ Norm Gould
A search for a backhoe in the late 1970s led Norman Gould and his family to move to Glenwood Springs, where he died Monday after making a mark on the commercial, cultural and religious life of the region. He was 81.
Gould was an engineer and farmer in New York, and in the late 1970s, he bought a backhoe for his company Norm Gould and Sons Excavating from John and Barb Sherman, who were moving from the East Coast to the Roaring Fork Valley.
Norman’s son Mark said the Shermans invited his parents to Glenwood, and they fell in love with it.
“It’s kind of nuts that two construction companies that were within 30 miles of each other both moved from upstate New York to Glenwood Springs. As crazy as it is, that’s how we got here,” Mark said.
Upon arrival in Glenwood, Norm and Mark both worked for Harly Rippy’s construction company, until reforming the excavating company as Norm Gould and Sons Construction.
This year, the company now known as Gould Construction will celebrate 40 years of operation with Norm’s grandson, Mark Jr., at the helm.
Norm Gould received an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering from Mohawk Valley Technical Institute in Oneida County, N.Y. He married Nancy Lee Young on Aug. 2, 1958, and worked as an engineer at the Carrier Corporation.
Gould usually held multiple jobs, and to Mark, it seemed his father only ever stopped working at full steam to sleep.
“He grew up on a farm, and farmers worked from the time the sun gets up in the morning until the sun goes down at night. He carried that same work ethic his entire life,” Mark said.
Norm’s entrepreneurial drive kept him busy with multiple jobs for most of his life.
“He bought a very small farm right out of college and was selling vegetables — sweet corn, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers — out of the back of a pickup truck. Then he bought a bigger farm, and had a vegetable stand on the highway,” Mark said.
That’s where Norm’s four children learned the value of hard work, Mark said.
Norm retired from Oneida Ltd. Silversmith, then the only domestic producer of silverware, as chief metallurgist, before moving to Glenwood Springs.
Mark remembers working with Norm for Harley Rippy Construction building a sewer line for a property up Four Mile Road.
The Goulds ran Ponderosa Hotel in West Glenwood before Norm founded Norm Gould and Sons Construction, which has become the premiere contractor for Glenwood Springs, having completed many critical projects both above and below the ground.
Mark Sr. has handed the leadership of the company to his son Mark Jr., and his son Evan works in the business as well, carrying on Norm’s high professional standards.
“It’s the work ethic, and also taking care of employees,” Mark Sr. says of the company’s success. “We have 100 employees in the summer, and the employees are treated well.
“It’s a family business, and therefore people are treated with kindness and care about them. That’s really what we were taught as kids — how to treat others nicely and not be like a big corporation that just uses their employees.”
Norman married Rose Braden after Nancy died in 1984. After suffering a heart attack in the 1990s, Norman began to step away from the high-stress aspects of running the construction company. Mark remembers doctors telling his father he would have to slow down or risk not seeing his grandchildren grow up. Norm did slow down, and was able to see his grandchildren have kids of their own.
But he was never one to stay idle, Mark Sr. said, and would help neighbors with excavation projects and even started selling coffee from a cart outside Walmart.
Never an unkind word
Glenwood Springs community members remember Norm’s later decades were marked by charitable acts through a number of local churches and assistance programs, and for the care he showed to people around him.
“At work, at school, with family, he was always a positive person,” Lynne Kerst, who with her late husband, Dan, knew Norm through ministries with various churches.
“He never had an unkind word, as far as I heard,” Kerst said.
“He was one of the nicest guys I know, and so giving,” said Bill Barnes, CPA, who prepared Norm and the construction company’s taxes for many years.
Gould spent much of his time with inmates at the Rifle Correctional Facility. Barnes said Norm would teach construction methods to the young people there, “so that when they got out, they would have a trade.”
Norm invested in things that would last, according to Peter Schaffner of the Christian organization Youth for Christ.
“He loved God, and loved people,” Schaffner said. “That’s where I saw Norman investing his time.”
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