As I originally set out to write this, I was reminded by the quote from the sage prognosticator Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around, you’ll miss it.”
In the last few months, Durango has lost four amazing community citizens. New folks to town won’t ever have had the opportunity to meet all of them, but you all will continue to benefit from their legacy and what these amazing men did for Durango and La Plata County: Don Jeter, Mickey Hogan, Ed Zink and Bob Dolphin.
Don Jeter had a contagious attitude. He served in the Marines, and the mindset to serve continued, as he was always willing to lend a hand. Not only the owner of CAL Steel and Sheet Metal, he was a 32nd-degree Scottish Rite Mason and a past master at the Durango San Juan Lodge No. 46. He also had a passion for children as the past president of the San Juan Basin Shrine Club. I can picture him in parades as he drove his “Tin Lizzie” smiling and waving to the crowd.
Mickey Hogan was a patriarch of one of Durango’s foremost families. Sorrel Sky Gallery now occupies the building that housed the best place to purchase jeans, Carhartts and anything you needed (and he grew up there on the second floor). He was also key in building Durango’s tourism industry. (He remembered The Strater “in the day.”) And we might not have had Purgatory had it not been for Mickey and his small group of “friends” who wanted to make Durango the place “to be.” Hogan’s even wrapped what you purchased in butcher paper, something you don’t see today.
Ed Zink was also born and raised in Durango. Waterfall Ranch and the restored wetlands on the Animas Valley property that used to be the family’s hay farm stand as testament to how much he cared for this community. But there also wouldn’t be a Mountain Bike Specialists or Iron Horse Bicycle Classic without Ed’s vision and persistence. Ed worked to make the business succeed and Durango’s downtown thrive, and the Iron Horse, an iconic world-class event. Because of Ed, Durango is the world mountain bike Mecca, after he brought the World Mountain Bike Championships here in 1990.
I worked with Bob Dolphin at Fort Lewis College. He suffered the consequences of polio early in life, and struggled at times, but he shall always be honored as the visionary administrator at FLC who brought to fruition many of the successes the college has today – including the Community Concert Hall, Center for Southwest Studies and more. He served on City Council and truly made a difference in this town.
After I learned of Bob’s recent passing, I found another quote, anonymous, but appropriate: “Life is short. Spend it with people who make you laugh and feel loved.”
We’ve always been a town of people who love each other, no matter our social, religious, racial or political leanings. Let’s remember that and live like Don, Mickey, Ed and Bob would like us to live, making Durango the best place it can be, with the best people on the planet.
Jack Llewellyn is executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.