Professional Profile: Laura Oakes 1975

Laura Oakes - 1975

Name: Laura Oakes - 1975

Title: founder

Company: Lakes & Mountains Realty Co

Location: Newport, VT


Laura Oakes, Lakes & Mountains Realty Co., Newport, VT has apparently found an elixir of youth radiating from the green mountains of Vermont. Soon to be 71 years old, Mrs. Oakes daily drives 25 miles to work at a real estate business she didn’t even establish until she was 63 years old. In fact, the only complaint she seems to have about her young business is “how to stop its growth from getting out of hand”. “I’m not planning to have a big office,” she says candidly. “I want to keep it small to maintain the involvement which has enabled people to know us personally.” “But how I’m going to stop the growth which as characterized us since we started, I don’t know,” she says. “Perhaps when I get out it will stop.” But Mrs. Oakes has no immediate plans to get out. In fact, she plans to stay with it as long as she possibly can, noting that her family has always worked past others’ normal retirement. The foremost example in her family, she points out, is a relative that quit working at the age of 86. In the meantime, Mrs. Oakes anticipates no diminishing of her activities, either at work or at play. For recreation, she plays golf, takes long walks with her Labrador retriever and swims in Shadow Lake, upon whose banks her home sits. In the winter, she snowshoes frequently and skates on the lake. “I don’t find my time hanging heavy on my hands” she comments. A statement which bay be more of an understatement than it seems. Mrs. Oakes is the president of the Northeast Kingdom Board of Realtors and is secretary of the VT Association of Realtors board presidents committee. While the real estate industry is her current profession, Mrs. Oakes has not forsaken her first. She taught secondary schools in Philadelphia for 35 years. After retiring there, she taught one year in New Jersey and three more in Wilmington, DE. After the death of her husband in 1963, she visited Vermont and purchased a summer cottage on Shadow Lake. After one summer there, she decided to remodel the cottage for year round living and moved north in 1966. “I didn’t of my own accord get into real estate,” she explains. “When I found out I couldn’t sell property unless I was licensed, I took the exam. I didn’t even know how to set up an office when I passed it.” Conducting her new business from her home, Mrs. Oakes returned to teaching. She completed four years at North County Union High School in Newport and finally retired, at least from teaching, in 1972. After her retirement, she helped organize the Orleans & North Essex Retired Teachers Association, serving as president for two years. “I think primarily I’m an organizer,” she explains her constant involvement. “I’ve found the real estate industry is sure different from the captive audiences of the classroom, however. I had to learn competitive selling.” Lakes & Mountain Realty Co has primarily been a one woman operation until recently when David Moore joined after 10 years as a salesman for NCR. The firm covers the entire Orleans County area. Since the office is only three miles from the Canadian border and 1.5 hours to Montreal, Mrs. Oakes does a good deal of business with “down country people” who do not live in the immediate area. She admits that her daily drive to work is seldom hindered by heavy traffic and she jokingly refers to the drive as going on her own private roads. “Unfortunately this lack of traffic count hampers some sales as far as commercial goes,” she says, “but at the same time the big city congestion does drive a lot of people to us who want to escape it. The beauty up here strikes everybody.” Mrs. Oakes finds the real estate business fascinating. She enjoys constantly meeting people and Lakes & Mountain has a strong referral business because of her personable approach to business. As far as the demands of the work, she finds none. “I thrive on it like food,” she says. “It’s exhilarating.”