Longtime economic development leader and Bayfield Town Board member Ed Morlan died Tuesday in Durango.
Morlan, 66, was having eye surgery on Oct. 31 when he may have suffered a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in his lungs, while he was under anesthesia, his daughter Kinsee Morlan said. He was transferred to Mercy Regional Medical Center, where was in intensive care and later died.
He will be remembered for his sense of humor, community commitment and as a model father and loving husband, Kinsee Morlan said. He also is survived by his wife, Jackie, and daughter Amber.
“I think really the biggest lesson he taught me and Amber is the value of being a contributing part of your community,” Kinsee Morlan said.
He touted the value of being a big fish in a small pond so he could make big ripples, she said.
He was drafted into the Army in 1969 and spent two years in Vietnam as a combat medic and earned a Purple Heart and Silver Star.
After leaving the military and moving to Bayfield, his first political venture was petitioning to get the town marshal and members of the Town Board removed from office because they were not transparent, she said.
Morlan served on the Bayfield Town Board for five terms, and during that time the city built a new Town Hall, a sewage-treatment plant and senior center, Jackie Morlan said.
“I think the reason he got involved in politics in the beginning, and the community, was his time in Vietnam,” she said.
As the executive director of the Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado, he also helped many now well-known businesses, such as Mercury Payment Systems (now called Vantiv), Advanced Mobile Propulsion and Silverton Mountain, get their start. After 27 years at Region 9, he retired at the end of September.
The economic development district is a nonprofit public-private partnership that helps create jobs by providing loans to startups that would not otherwise qualify for funding or sufficient funding.
He also oversaw regional transportation and internet planning for many years.
“He just wanted Southwest Colorado to keep up with the rest of the world in terms of economic development,” Kinsee Morlan said.
When he started at Region 9 as director the organization was more than $30,000 in debt. The regional governments had to pay off the debt, and he started building a revolving loan fund to help keep the organization solvent. Over the years he oversaw $22 million in loans.
Building the loan fund was key in the number of businesses Region 9 was able to help, said Joe Keck, former Small Business Development Center director.
He was also good at reaching entrepreneurs who could benefit from the loans.
“Ed was passionate, very passionate about helping people prosper and communities prosper,” said Kent Curtis, CEO of First Southwest Bank.
Morlan also was a founder of the Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs, which has started 15 businesses.
In recognition of his accomplishments and involvement, he received the Leadership La Plata Barbara Conrad award and Gov. John Hickenlooper declared July 28, 2016 as Ed Morlan Day.