Bobby Beley is a home remodeler and firefighter who moved to Tahlequah to take care of his ailing mother. Now he is looking to connect with the greater community throughout Cherokee County.
Beley was born in Montreal, Quebec, and moved to Hulbert when he was a young child to be close to his mother’s family. She moved him to Boise, Idaho, where he spent most of his childhood.
“I’ve been in construction since I was in high school. I’ve done that and firefighting off and on,” said Beley.
Amid decade-long droughts, the Western U.S. has suffered from raging wildfires, and Baley saw there were opportunities to serve. He had a friend who encouraged him to get involved.
“One of my best friends, he had never done it, so when we became of age, we took our Red Cards together, and we became Type 2 firefighters,” he said.
A Red Card is an agency-issued form of documentation certifying that an individual has performed the adequate training and undergone other tests to perform the duties of a firefighter.
After working for a season as a Type 2 firefighter, he underwent training to become a Type 1 firefighter, which allowed him to see more action.
“I did six seasons of wildland firefighting. I wanted to go to become a smokejumper or a hotshot, but I just never found the time or had the ambition to do it,” he said.
His Red Card is still active, but he has stepped away from firefighting for the time being, as he is now focusing on his career as a home remodeler. His flexible schedule came in handy when he learned in 2020 that his mother was suffering from Stage 4 brain cancer. Her diagnosis brought him back to Cherokee County.
“She passed away in 2021. We knew it was coming. It was terminal brain cancer. She had three brain surgeries in 10 months. It took her out quickly. It was the roughest thing I did in my life, to see her diminish like that,” he said.
Rather than returning to the Western U.S., Beley has decided to stay in Tahlequah.
“She wanted me to stay here with family. In Idaho, it was just me and her,” he said. “All my relatives live here, and she wanted me to stick around.”
His decision to stay in Tahlequah has provided him with a space to connect with loved ones and his community.
He has stayed busy throughout the pandemic, as he found a niche providing remodeling services to those who need it.
He enjoys remodeling because every day is a new adventure, with different tasks that need to be performed.
“I always chose that business because of its wide variety of things. I don’t do the same thing every day. I do a little bit of everything. I do some construction, but it’s mostly remodeling. I do framing, decking, patio – I do drywall, flooring, painting, lighting, electrical, and plumbing,” he said.