All of my family roots run deep in the Southeastern Utah area, some lines go back nearly 125 years. In helping my son on his project, we had a good opportunity to talk about the history of the Corbin family businesses and the contributions to the foundation of the community we will always call home.
I couldn’t help but think about all the times I’d heard about J. N. over the years. The founding of the newspaper, Grand Valley Times; the establishment of the phone company, Midland Telephone Company; even his law practice that led him to serve as the county attorney for a few years. The thing that has had the most influence on me and many of the other J. N. Corbin descendants is the phone company. I took some time to reflect on my own memories of “growing up at the office.” The office where most of the employees knew my name and would regularly see me hanging out and running around the halls from the time I was very small.
An end to another chapter of Grand County history came to a close on February 25. My dad, George Carter, retired after 38 years of committed service to the phone company that has been such a founding asset to Southeastern Utah. The phone company, as you both know, is Moab’s second oldest continuous business, shadowed only by the Times-Independent. My siblings and I have joked that George would be the last person to turn out the lights and lock up the building. Well, he is the last descendent of J. N. Corbin to leave the building. George left the office with no fanfare, no acknowledgement, no marking of the years of service. George wouldn’t have wanted anything said but “thanks.” What I’d like the current management and staff to know is that my father is an asset that is irreplaceable.
My dad has always been a self-taught man. He didn’t have the opportunity for a formal education, but he is one of the most intelligent people around. He learned his trade from working at the family business. There were many missed family activities, dinners, and sometimes holidays due to his “call-outs” for someone’s communication crisis. We always knew that when the call came in, dad went, because that’s how J. N. would have wanted it. Now dad has earned his time and opportunities to do what he wants to do. He says there is always something to be tinkered with on his bulldozer.
Something that needs to be known about my dad is that he is the most ethical and high-character person I know. He can honestly, and comfortably, look anyone in the eye and know that he has always remained true to himself. In the course of our research for the history fair project, my mom (the family history nut) referred to J. N. as a true Renaissance Man, meaning he could, and did, a little bit of everything. Personally, I think “the Renaissance Man” lives on in George. He can figure out anything, fix anything, and is the only one who knows how to push all of my buttons. My dad plays no games, what you see is what you get. And what you get from George is 100 percent every time (bad back and all).
So, Sam and Adrien, the next time you see George please tell him hello and wish him good health on his well-earned retirement. He has known you both all his life, and you both have known my family for generations. You too have carried on for J. N. Oh, and please tell George that no matter how crazy he makes me, I am proud of him and I love him.
Best of luck on your communication crises, Southeastern Utah. The Icon has left the building.
–L. D. Carter