Museum of Northwest Colorado: Leonard Deru and his great service
November 6, 2015
The genuine 1950s service station is just a vague memory for most Craig residents. In the glory days of filling stations the driver sat in the comfort of the car while the station attendant whisked around the car, filling the gas tank, washing the windshield and checking the oil level. What a luxury that was for the driver on a blustery winter day to be out of the cold, or conversely in the blistering heat of summer, to let the attendant scrub the splattered bugs off the windshield. With a plethora of such stations in Craig during that post-war era, competition was fierce to provide the best possible service to the customer.
Leonard Deru was a Wyoming boy who strayed south to Craig after his three years of service in the Army during World War II. After the war, Leonard attended the University of Wyoming and obtained a degree in business. Leonard briefly worked in the banking and insurance fields before settling into becoming a business owner in Northwest Colorado.
He moved to Craig in 1951 and shortly after his arrival he met Lorraine Bugay, who had been born at Mt. Harris. They married in 1953 and two years later opened their newly constructed "L. J. Standard Service Station" that was located at 430 W. Victory Way. That location and building served as a Standard/Amoco service station until it closed in 1996.
Leonard's business quickly flourished and by the time Chet Klock wrote about Leonard in his cartoon series in 1956, Leonard was employing four men in addition to the help of his wife Lorraine and their 13-year-old son Fred. The service station offered not only gas but boasted the typical filling station "menu" of that era including tires, oil changes, wash and lube jobs and light mechanical work. With all the local competition in the field Leonard obtained a competitive edge by emphasizing great service for the customer.
In 1964, the Derus moved to California but returned to Colorado's Front Range in 1972 where Leonard established a business which he operated until 2000. Finally Leonard and Lorraine tired of the snowy winters and they moved to Hurricane, Utah where Leonard could spend his days golfing, which he claimed was the second love of his life after Lorraine. The couple enjoyed four years in the warm sunshine of that area before they both died in 2004, of declining health issues.
Though full service filling stations are a thing of the past, the business ethic of good service to the customer continues to thrive in various businesses in Craig. Today's store and business owners know that in a competitive world that now includes Internet services and goods, it is the smiling face and the personal "can-do" attitude that brings back repeat customers. The staff at the Museum of Northwest Colorado loves to document our region's history, which ranges from significant events to people and places. Be sure to include the museum in your fall plans – admission is free and it is open Monday through Saturday. For more information call 970-824-6360.
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Mary Pat Dunn is the registrar at the Museum of Northwest Colorado.Mary Pat Dunn is the registrar at the Museum of Northwest Colorado. Mary Pat Dunn is the registrar at the Museum of Northwest Colorado.