by Jan Badgley
from the July 21, 2010 issue of the Hometown Happenings

Cathie Elliott grew up in Denver, and from an early age she seemed a born entrepreneur.

“I played office when the other girls played with their dolls,” Cathie shared. She started a neighborhood newspaper and sold it door to door. She wrote and produced plays and sold tickets to the neighborhood residents when she was just a kid. After college, she worked for an advertising agency for a bit. She started working for Gus Jardon of The Clarke Agency in 1980, just after she got her license to sell real estate. Eleven years later, she purchased the office from Jardon.

“I decided to keep the name and logo because it’s the oldest active real estate office in Gunnison,” Cathie explained.

The Clarke Agency was formed in 1939, when Ray Clarke bought E.G.Palmer’s insurance business and renamed it after himself. Son Jack and his wife Helen began working there soon after. When World War II called Jack away, Helen managed the agency until his return. Jack and Helen began the real estate portion of the business, but the exact date is unknown. Gus Jardon bought the firm in 1956, by which time it was selling real estate, insurance and other financial services. After the sale, the Clarkes relocated to Denver, while Jardon juggled time between overseeing this new agency and Gunnison Savings & Loan. Gus passed away a few years ago.

Cathie completed her undergraduate degree in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing, from WSC, and she also received her Master’s Degree in business administration from WSC.

“My goal is always to work hard for the customer, whether buyer or seller,” Cathie detailed. “I strive to make sure the client’s needs get met. I’m a hard worker and I endeavor to be fair and considerate of everyone involved in the transaction.”

Cathie has been chosen as the “People’s Choice Award” winner for Best Realtor for the past two years. The Chamber of Commerce has only given this award out for two years. She keeps up with all the latest technology, including a very user-friendly website.

“Not only does my website have my listings, but people can access the entire MLS (Multiple Listing System) from my website,” she pointed out.

Cathie’s office was located in a small office upstairs at 307 N. Main for 28 years. Three years ago, she purchased an office building at 241 N. Main. Cathie’s daughter, Audrie Townsend, is her assistant, and also is a WSC graduate.

“I enjoy helping people find a home that is in their price range and fits their needs and desires,” Cathie shared. She also enjoys helping sellers get their homes sold.

“It is a buyer’s market right now,” Cathie asserted. “It’s a great time to buy. Interest rates are low and sellers are generally motivated.”

Cathie has an open-door policy, welcoming visitors to her office even if they are not looking for a home.

“I enjoy it when people stop in the office to visit,” Cathie admitted. She has an open house at her office every year during the Night of Lights, with free food for everyone and gifts for the kids. She hands out bowls and bowls of candy to Trick-or-Treaters during the afternoon of Halloween every year.

In 1987, Cathie began a teaching career in the Business Department at Western, and now she heads up the Entrepreneurship Program and teaches marketing courses.

“I feel lucky because each day when I get up, I’m excited about the day,” Cathie said. “In my opinion, I’ve been successful because I’m referral based. I’m the locals’ Realtor, and I have built a good reputation that way, as well as through my longevity and consistency in the business.”

A long time ago, Cathie made the decision not to hire an office full of Realtors.

“If I hired other Realtors, then I’d be managing people, instead of doing what I love, which is selling real estate,” she explained.

Cathie has lived through both good and bad times in real estate.

“It’s a very cyclical industry,” she admitted. “But I love living in Gunnison. I often hold open houses on my listings, which gives buyers a preview of what’s on the market. Real estate is a unique industry, as ‘competitors’ cooperate with one another in selling their listings. There aren’t many industries where competitors can sell one another’s inventory.”

Cathie can be reached at The Clarke Agency, Inc., by calling 641-0511 or on her website at

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