Profiles in Ranch History: Ted Novakowski
By Carol Rawle & Joyce Wolff
January 1999

Who is Ted Novakowski?  He's been my neighbor up the road going on four years now, and I would describe him as a pleasant, soft-spoken man with strong convictions.  Ted describes himself as someone who has always enjoyed being involved in community activities.  This might explain why Ted is currently deeply involved as a board member of the SFTR metropolitan District.

Ted and his wife Dorothy were among the very first to buy property on the Ranch and to undertake the adventure of all adventures-building a home here.  Ted retired in 1991, as Director of Support Services for Sears after 35 years with the company.  He was located in many places, to include New York, Chicago and Ohio.  Ted enjoys new experiences and meeting interesting people.  A great storyteller, he relates tales of his work in Mexico where he managed manufacturing plants for Sears.  Here he fine tuned his taste for fiery hot foods and earned a valuable reputation with his Mexican colleagues by his ability to hold his own with a dash of salt, a little lime and a shot of tequila.

The Novakowski's had bought their land on the SFTR the year before retirement, and like a lot of us, decided to move here a little sooner than originally planned.  It was August 1992, when they hired Wayne Arnold to put up their log home, and they were able to move into their finished home by July 1993.  They didn't have any neighbors to speak of, except for the bobcat that Dorothy saw strolling across their deck right after they moved in.  Carl Putz's house was already here, but only a handful of others were under construction; the Risis, Shaws, Treibnics, and Wolff's.

Ted and Dorothy became the unofficial hosts to most potential property buyers on the Ranch, continually welcoming visitors to tour their home, their property, and answering questions.  This custom continues to this day.  They both have an avid interest in history and are always ready to discuss, recommend and share an interesting history book, especially those describing the exploration and pioneering of the West.  It takes a certain kind of person to blaze the trail (no pun intended) and I suppose Ted would be that sort.

Perhaps Ted's character was forged as a tender eight-year-old when he was caught in the 1943 polio epidemic.  He managed to survive his incarceration in an iron lung only to find himself paralyzed from the neck down.  He actually couldn't life a finger, he says.  After two years of determination and intense physical therapy he regained the use of all his muscles except for some weakness in his right hand.

It was the problem with his hand that kept him from pursuing his dream to become a surgeon.  In college he switched from pre-med to psychology and business, graduating with a degree in both from the University of Notre Dame in 1957.  His devotion to his alma mater is quite apparent and he enjoys reminiscing about his experiences there.  Please do not interrupt Ted when Notre Dame is playing football where he watches and analyzes the Irish on his enormous TV.

Ted met Dorothy (at Sears, she laughs) in Mansfield, OH.  They were married in 1959.  Their first child was born in 1960, and they were to eventually have three more.  Now, they're the grandparents of five with a new one due in April.

How did Ted get involved in Ranch Politics?  He and Dorothy attended the first annual POA meeting which was held in October 1992.  It was at this meeting that the property owners who were present elected their first board of directors.  Ted found himself on that board along with Charles Baldwin, Rich Babnick, Janice Hines, Cody Campbell, Bob Purswell, Tom Stephens, Walt Wolff, and Steve Johnson.

Among the concerns, at the time, were getting the water, power and phone lines in, and property tax issues.  Because of Ted's avocation of following politics, he made it his quest to attend all county commissioner' meetings.  He urged the other board members to do the same.  The result was that our board was able to stay on top of the county's determination to change the tax status of the SFTR.  Las Animas County was attempting to change the designation of agricultural or ranch land from 35 acres to 160 acres, and the designation of the SFTR from agricultural to grazing residential.  The SFTR eventually won this fight and the result is lower property taxes for all of us.

In 1993, the board remained the same.  Ted was serving as vice-president with Mr.  Baldwin as president.  For the first time, fire protection, security, and garbage collection became concerns.  Ted decided to get his hands dirty and launched the 'garbage committee.' Getting power in to all lots was the big focus.  Tom Stephens and Rich Babnick were indispensable in that effort.

For the next year, Ted was re-elected to the board and elected by the board as president.  This is 1994, and water and phone lines were still major issues.  Security concerns over pond use and timber removal were also resolved.  Finally, the power was nearing completion and the POA was coming of age, being no longer under the stewardship of developer Charles Baldwin.

For another year Ted steered the POA but resigned in 1995, for medical reasons.  But after the SFTR formed the Metro District in 1997, it became necessary to find five property owners who were also country residents to serve as board members.  Ted once again volunteered his services.  He is currently serving with Jim Davis, Will Potter, Tom Stephens, and David Schroepfer.  Ted feels that apathy is probably the biggest threat to the well being of the SFTR, as well as to our society in general.

We could only wish to have more people like this man.

Thank you Ted, from all of us!