July 06–John Shupe should be the poster boy for the game of life.
Call it “The Game of Life and how to WIN.”
Shupe, 96 years young, has been there and done that.
In fact, he’s still doing it. Doesn’t even have a bucket list.
Shupe is unlike most his age.
Never once did he mention politics or healthcare reform.
Instead, one of Greeley’s originals talked of playing golf “whenever I get invited,” starting, operating and maintaining a successful trucking company, “loving to play golf,” preparing for his 97th birthday bash in September and celebrating a friend’s 75th birthday — “ah, they’re like kids” — this weekend in Ruidoso, N.M.
Throw some occasional reading in there on the side and taking care of his great-grandchildren as the highlights of Shupe’s day.
How do a group of senior and super-senior citizens celebrate a birthday?
Golf, and more golf.
“We’ll play three or four games of golf over eight days,” said Shupe, the one-time head honcho of Shupe Trucking.
“Right now, I golf for the fun,” said Shupe, advancing to talk about the role of technology in golf and how it’s helped today’s players master the game.
“When I hit one down the middle, it’s a good shot,” Shupe said. “And of course, when you get one in the hole.”
Shupe, who’s as sharp as a tack, as the saying goes, compared golf technology with the trucking industry by stating “my first truck, a 1935 Ford, or my 1936 Chevy … now we have trucks that haul 10 times the amount of those trucks.
“I’m blessed, really blessed,” continued Shupe, who has also been in the farming and banking industry.
Shupe was smart enough to know how to keep his bread buttered when he was a spry 11-year-old in 1932, making the trip from Macomb, Ill., to Greeley with his parents, Clyde and Edith, to accommodate his father’s health.
“We came here in 1932 … my dad had a 1929 Chevrolet and he put my mother and eight kids in it with a trailer that had all of our clothes, except the pants we had on, and came here. It took about 10 days.”
The Shupe clan had read about Colorado’s relatively dry climate and saw a picture with a Hereford and some sugar beets to realize Colorado was their destination.
“Nobody had any money in 1932,” Shupe said. “I doubt if my dad had $300 in his pocket, but he was a brave man. My brother Harvey was only 4 months old at the time.”
The elder Shupe had another 30 years in him, hauling sugar beets and potatoes to go with a little farm he bought.
“We rented a house on Reservoir Road for $15 a month,” Shupe said. “Then we bought a house on 23rd Ave., with a little shed for some milk cows … my dad had to feed us kids.”
Shupe proudly stated he was a graduate of Greeley High School, “Class of 1938,” before buying his first truck from what he called “the Ford garage on 8th Avenue,” and started trucking coast-to-coast.
Eventually, the Shupe Brothers trucking company reached an inventory of 300 trucks then 400 trucks and contracted to haul beef for Monfort Trucking in 1970. Remember Monfort of Colorado Transportation? It was a 100-truck fleet that Shuper operated.
The trucking company had offices in five states and was a major contract carrier for Morton Salt.
“When I see a Shupe truck on the road, it makes me feel good,” Shupe said. “There are drivers today who stay in contact and ask me how I’m doing and remember the days when we hauled … they all want to get picture of the trucks.”
Shupe does take Horace Greeley’s advice of “Go West Young Man” and head to Scottsdale, Ariz., for the winter months with his bride of 11 years, Sandra. He was married to his first wife, Maxine, for 68 years, until she died in 2005.
“We drive a lot,” Shupe said. “We’ll drive to Ruidoso, it’s only 600 miles.”
In the meantime, Shupe cherished Wednesday afternoon when he could dote over two of his great-grandchildren, Chalis, 4, and Creed, 4.
“They’re growing up,” Shupe said. “I just love to take care of them, but it won’t be long and they’ll be able to take care of themselves.”
Taking care of themselves is something great-grandpa can easily teach them, along with enjoying a day by playing golf.
“When I go 18 holes … oh yeah, I could go another 18,” Shupe concluded.
Samuel G. Mustari covers sports for The Tribune. Reach him at (970) 392-4437 or via email at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter @TribuneMustari or watch his video “Shootin’ It With Samuel G.” at greeleytribune.com/sports.
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