The DeBoer Family - A McCall Legacy
Judd and Diane DeBoer and their family are rapidly becoming a Western anomaly: a family whose place and activities remain linked to their pioneer past. Diane’s family was an important part of McCall and its economy for nearly a century; and today the DeBoers continue to be centered on the land and its resources. The ethos of ranching, cattle, timber and the outdoor lifestyle that these pursuits imply permeate their identity and their latest endeavor: River Ranch.
The family’s legacy in McCall began in 1910 when Diane’s grandparents, Carl and Ida Brown, came to Long Valley from New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The Browns staked a gold mine claim, but like so many other hopeful miners they soon had to turn to some other way of making a living. Diane’s grandfather first became a backcountry mail carrier, but eventually opened a saw mill in McCall. Her father, legendary McCall businessman Warren Brown, was born in 1912 in a house that today is better known to McCall residents as the Toll Station Pizza House.
The Brown Family quickly became McCall’s largest employer, extending their business operations into ranching as well as lumber. Diane and her brother grew up herding cattle and ski racing until going off to college. It was while attending Willamette University in Salem, Oregon that she met a young man from Minnesota named Judd DeBoer. Following graduation, Judd entered Naval Officer Candidate School and the couple married and moved to Virginia. They later moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where Judd worked as a stock broker and later started an insulation company in nearby Marin County.
After 17 years in California, however, the pull of Idaho was too strong to resist. Judd and Diane moved to Boise in 1981, and while continuing their business in Marin they bought Evan’s Building Center in Eagle and built Payette Lake’s Lumber in McCall, now a unit of Pro-Build. Not long after they bought Brown's Industries from Diane’s parents, Jayne and Warren, which along with its Riggins, Idaho sawmill included half ownership in the Brundage Mountain ski resort. In a futher shift from resource to recreation-based industries, the DeBoers also built the Salmon Rapids Lodge in Idaho's Whitewater Capital, Riggins, Idaho, located approximately 45 minutes north or McCall.
In the 1980s the DeBoer Family made another business decision that was to prove a momentous one for the community of McCall. With long-time family friends Dennis and Kathy Hart, they purchased a nearly 500-acre working ranch just south of town. While the property continued its ranching operations, the partners put together a future plan that has since evolved into River Ranch, a private gatehouse community situated along 2-1/2 miles of Idaho's famous Payette River.
As plans for River Ranch developed, the partners began a systematic tour of high-end mountain developments throughout the West. They also conducted a careful analysis of the site’s natural features, including a tree survey and review of original land contours. After looking at a number of different development concepts, including high-density residential, the decision was reached to create a more natural development that would preserve and enhance the inherent beauty of the ranch.
Today, the former cattle ranch site has seen the restoration of water courses and wetlands to create year-round streams and lakes, including 80 acres of riparian area that have been permanently set aside and will remain in their natural state. McCall River Ranch Company has taken the further step of hiring a full-time construction manager to help ensure the architectural continuity of the development’s “Idaho ranch” esthetic and to assist homesite buyers in planning their homes.
The common thread running through the DeBoer Family’s business activities remains the ranching ethos of its pioneer past. “Ranching is a tough business, and one you can’t survive on alone, but it is also a very appealing lifestyle,” admits Judd. “We have a heart for sky and land, even though there are better returns to be made elsewhere.” More important than these returns for the DeBoers, however, is McCall’s future as a community. While change has not been radical during the lifetime of Judd and Diane, they look at the experience of other Western mountain communities as a harbinger. “These communities act as a magnet to people, but we want growth to take place in a good way. At our doorstep we have world-class skiing, whitewater, fishing, wilderness and golf, so why wouldn’t they want to come here?”
In the end, the DeBoer’s believe that the legacy they hope to preserve, and what it stands for, will be the very things that protect McCall from “helter skelter” development; and that the value that baby boomers are placing on bringing children and grandchildren together in places close to nature, and where the outdoors lifestyle and recreations of Idaho’s ranching past can compete with malls, video games, and other sedentary distractions of the 21st century. These are, after all, the same values that drew Judd and Diane back to Idaho over twenty years ago, and that continue to bind them to McCall. "It really doesn't matter how long you've lived here, " says Judd, “anytime you can go to Brundage on a bluebird day and ski with four generations.....well, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Uniquely situated on 2-1/2 miles of Idaho’s famous Payette River in
the resort town of McCall, Idaho, River Ranch is a private, gatehouse
with 64 ultra-spacious homesites on 458 acres. Close to everything, River Ranch owners are minutes from renowned golfing, fishing and world-class skiing
as well as downtown McCall and recreation on beautiful, pristine Payette Lake.
©2010 River Ranch McCall Idaho 208.634.4686