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Adventure awaits abroad

Deborah Skillicorn has been a fixture at Mountain View Electric Association for almost 20 years, but April 28 marked her last day at the electric co-op.Skillicorn, MVEA member services specialist, decided it was time to retire and move to Brussels, Belgium, where her husband Alan is the communications advisor to the American Delegation to NATO. It is with mixed emotions that she leaves. “I hadn’t expected to retire this early,” she said. Since her husband’s move two years ago, they have traveled between the two countries for visits.Skillicorn joined the Falcon office of MVEA in September 1991 as a telephone receptionist. Over the years, she has worked in different capacities at both the Limon and Falcon locations.Born and raised in Davenport, Iowa, she and her husband were high school sweethearts. Skillicorn went to the University of Iowa, while her husband attended West Point in New York. They married after graduating from college.Her husband remained in the military for five years – three years stationed in Germany and then Fort Campbell, Ky., where their first daughter Jennifer was born. After leaving the military, the couple moved to Annapolis, Md. where their second daughter Kristen was born.Skillicorn and her husband wanted their kids to experience growing up in Europe, so when the daughters were 6 years old and 2 years old they jumped at the chance to relocate to Europe when her husband was offered a job in Stuttgart, Germany. They were there for seven years.After noticing Jennifer was not excelling in second grade, Skillicorn decided to take matters into her own hands and start a new school. With the help of two neighbors who were also dissatisfied with the schools their children attended, Skillicorn started the International School of Stuttgart. The doors opened the following September. Skillicorn said it only took a year to open the school because she bent the rules. “We just did things and apologized later,” she said.Last October marked the school’s 25th anniversary, and Skillicorn was invited to speak at the celebration. The school, which started with 13 students, now boasts more than 700 students and two campuses. “I was overwhelmed by the size of the school,” she said.In 1986, while visiting family in Colorado, Skillicorn and her husband decided to set roots in Colorado. “We happened on a piece of property and fell in love with it and went ahead and bought it,” she said.They didn’t make the move until 1989 and rented in Black Forest for a year-and-a-half before they built a house on the property they purchased a few years earlier.Skillicorn said the changes in Falcon since she has worked at MVEA are “like night and day.” She and her coworkers would watch the antelope cross the road, and she remembers how there were no stoplights in town. “Safeway was a huge deal,” she said. “We all got excited (when it opened).”The electric co-op has seen changes, too. Since starting at MVEA, Skillicorn said the company has tripled in size, with 150 employees total between the two locations.”One of the reasons I love this job is educating people on the cooperative principles,” she said. “Whenever we have that opportunity to preach the gospel of the co-op that’s really fun.”Educating young people is one way she likes to get the word out. MVEA holds an essay contest every year for high school juniors. The first place winner travels to Washington D.C. to meet with 1,500 other students from throughout the United States.The second and third place winners attend a Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp at Glen Eden Resort north of Steamboat Springs. Skillicorn organized the camp for 10 years during her time at MVEA. The camp has been in existence 20 years, and about 80 students from Kansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Colorado attend the camp every year.Skillicorn said she was especially touched by the students who were having a hard time at home or school but became motivated about their future after attending the camp. “It’s those kinds of stories that really make it worthwhile,” she said.In 2007, she organized the first American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Limon and chaired the event for two years. The first Relay for Life in Brussels is scheduled to be held this year, and Skillicorn said she might chair the event next year.She does find time for hobbies, which include Dressage, a form of horse training. “When you get off (the horse) it feels like a mini vacation,” she said. Skillicorn also enjoys boating, camping and golfing – in her spare time.Skillicorn said she will miss many things about living in the area, including her family, others in the community and the solitude of where she lives. “I will miss the people and the job. I love this job,” she said. “It was very hard to make that decision.” It’s a beautiful place to live.”As she looks forward to a different lifestyle in Europe, she said, “It’s just a more laid-back lifestyle, and it’s a much slower pace.”

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