Decades of community service were ‘always fun’ 2014 Bravo! Entrepreneur - Lifetime Achievement

Ask Dick Boettcher to name the achievements that stand out over his long involvement in the Greeley community and his wife of 66 years, Irene, promptly offers a three-page single-spaced list of awards and activities – updated just this month.

“He’s too modest to tell you himself,” Irene Boettcher says.

Apparently she’s right because the first thing her husband says is, “Don’t print all that.”

There’s not room anyway, but among the highlights of work that spans more than 60 years in business, community, government and politics – many in high-profile positions – are those Dick Boettcher himself is most proud of:

• 75 years in the Boy Scouts. Boettcher was an area president and regional vice president and attended jamborees all over the world, including Korea. He was named Distinguished Citizen of the year in 1999.

• United Way. Boettcher was instrumental in organizing the United Way of Weld County as well as its predecessor, the Greeley One Fund. He and Irene were named Humanitarians of the Year in 2012.

• Here’s the one he says he’s “so happy” with. He raised $6 million for the Monfort Children’s Clinic.

“I asked Kenny Monfort for $1 million, and he said yes. Then I asked him for another million dollars,” Boettcher said. “It’s just so great to see no child turned away.” He’s still on the advisory board.

None of it was ever work for Boettcher. “It was fun.”

He traces his motivation back to his two-year stint in the Army during World War II.

“I served my country,” he said. “When I got home, I found that all these other GIs were working on community projects. I said, ‘This is it. We’re still serving.’”

And that’s in addition to a successful business career that didn’t exactly turn out to be what Boettcher originally had envisioned. He wanted to be a coach. After the war, he returned to Nebraska, where he was born and raised, to attend business school at the University of Nebraska. But he got the coaching bug and transferred to the University of Northern Colorado.

“But I found out salaries for coaches were not very much,” he said with a laugh.

He was offered a job at Professional Finance Co. where “I could make much more money.”

A position with a credit bureau seemed like the “right place to be at the right time,” he recalled. During the war, credit was “really the thing that oiled the industry so it could operate. That called for credit reporting services and collection services to support the industry.”

He bought Professional Finance Co. in 1954 and guided its expansion from three employees to 35 when he sold it in 1993 to his son-in-law, Mike Shoop, who still owns it today. It’s grown into a national company with 150 employees. Boettcher credits Irene and his employees for the company’s success.

Along the way he realized that “running a business is nothing different than coaching a team. You have players and you expect them to perform. And if you take good care of your players and treat them right, they’ll treat you right.”

These days, in addition to their various community service activities, Dick and Irene swim frequently and enjoy their “beautiful family” – three children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

He has no regrets. “Everybody makes a mistake or two, but you learn from them and you keep going.”