Bob and Joyce Everitt (center) and their family at the 2015 Founders Day Celebration.
If there were a Mount Rushmore for Fort Collins – a monument to honor the most influential community leaders since the city’s founding – Bob Everitt surely would be there, front and center.
Of all the people who have helped Fort Collins and Colorado State University reach the lofty heights they have achieved over the past century, Bob – with his beloved wife, Joyce, at his side – would be among the most influential in terms of his vision, leadership, integrity, financial support and philanthropic commitment to dozens of causes.
Bob, 87, died Feb. 12 with his family by his side. Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the Lory Student Center’s Grand Ballroom. Parking for the memorial will be reserved in the lots to the south and north of the Lory Student Center, click here for a map: everitt-parking-map
“Bob Everitt was a friend, a mentor and an inspiration for all of the CSU presidents who were fortunate to know him,” CSU President and Chancellor Tony Frank said. “He was so humble, but he accomplished more than most of us do in a lifetime, guided by a generous spirit and strategic sense of what makes a community great. He embodied the ideal that a successful and thriving business invests in and commits to the town and people who support it – and he led the community to invest in the arts, culture, education, museums, libraries, high-quality neighborhoods, and so much more.”
Everitt leaves behind a city and a university that are vastly different – and infinitely better – than when he and Joyce first arrived from Oklahoma in 1953. Then, it was a town of 16,000 people, and the university was home to only a few thousand students.
Influence across the city
Bob’s influence on Fort Collins stretches across the city. He built the Foothills Fashion Mall in the 1970s, and Everitt Companies helped bring back the mall in its new form some 40 years later. He created numerous housing developments that are now some of the most familiar and beloved neighborhoods in Fort Collins. And his commitment to his adopted hometown helped lead to the establishment of the Lincoln Center, Poudre Valley Hospital, the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, and other iconic Fort Collins civic establishments.
He started the Everitt Lumber Co. when he was 24 years old and fresh from service in the Korean War. He chose a Fort Collins site over one in Oklahoma, and immediately upon their arrival, he and Joyce began putting down roots. Over time, his reputation as a businessman and community leader was equaled by his generosity.
He and Joyce were passionate supporters of the arts and education and extensively involved in the community: Bob was a longtime Rotary member, served as president of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, was a founding director of the Downtown Development Authority, and served on the steering committee for Volunteers in Poudre School District.
Champion of CSU
But nowhere was their influence more apparent than at Colorado State University. After being introduced to then CSU President William Morgan and his wife, Lilla, Bob and Joyce became champions of all things CSU, from the College of Business to the library, from the Department of Equine Sciences to Ram athletics.
Here’s just a small sampling of Bob’s involvement with CSU:
- He served on the Board of Governors, which oversees CSU and the CSU System.
- He established the renowned Everitt Real Estate Center in the College of Business.
- He established the Summit Investment Fund, which gives CSU students the unique opportunity to manage their own real investment portfolio.
- He was a member of the Campaign Leadership Council that helped steer CSU’s first comprehensive campaign, which was successfully completed in 2012.
- He served on the board of directors for the CSU Foundation.
CSU bestowed numerous honors on the Everitts for their remarkable dedication to the University. They were named honorary alumni by the CSU Alumni Association; Bob received an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2005; and in 2015, he and Joyce were given the annual Founders Day Medal, reserved for those who have had a lasting impact on the University’s growth, character, and development.
Through it all they remained incredibly humble – thankful to CSU and the city for allowing them to be of service.
‘Lives we can make better’
At the time of the Founders Day ceremony in 2015, Everitt thanked his company employees and family, and said, “Joyce and I believe in giving money and talent to the people whose lives we can make better. Because of what we give, and when we do that, our lives are fulfilled and meaningful.”
Colorado State President Emeritus Al Yates, who led the University from 1990-2003, echoed Frank’s gratitude to the Everitts in a letter when they received the Founders Day Medal. Everitt was driven, he noted, only by a desire to make Fort Collins better in every dimension. But it wasn’t all business: Yates recalled relaxing with him and talking about fishing, golf, and travel.
“I think about words that define this wonderful and unique couple – loyal, humble, visionary, generous, pillars, leaders, caring, founders – and much more,” he wrote. “Like so many, I am indebted to Bob and Joyce for touching my life and making days better.”
“Fort Collins, Colorado State University and the College of Business would look very different if it wasn’t for Bob Everitt,” said Beth Walker, dean of the CSU College of Business. “A truly great man – one of the best. He will be deeply missed.”
Bob is survived by Joyce and their children, David, Stan and Claudia; seven grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. He also leaves behind his brother, Bud, and his three children, Larry, Leslie and Doug, and their families.
Cara Neth also contributed to this story.