We did not hear Bill Mashaw deliver a critical word about the Durango community. He liked positives, only positives, and wanted them to grow in size and number.
The story is that Mashaw was in attendance at the meeting designed to explore ways to improve teenage experiences and someone brought up the idea of a Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization.
How do we start one, someone asked. Mashaw's response was, "I know how, I've done it before." And with his leadership, a local branch was under way.
Mashaw knew well how to do it.
He had been a leader in the Big Brothers organization in Indianapolis before his wife, Dot, and he moved to Durango in 1984, and he also had served on the organization's national board of directors.
And Bill Mashaw was not interested in making himself a key player in what he did. After the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization was on its feet and moving forward, he had nurtured the board to the point that he could move on to other good works.
The number of organizations Mashaw either strengthened or helped form were numerous.
A news story in today's paper contains some of them. A favorite of ours was the Community Emergency Assistance Coalition. Meeting on a regular basis, representatives from various not-for-profit and state human services organizations were able to discuss particular families in need so that support was targeted and complete.
The professionals knew that rent and grocery assistance, job search, family counseling, education and perhaps some legal services all went hand-in-hand. Miss one because of a lack of communication and coordination, and a family would not be able to gather strength to move forward.
Mashaw found Durango because of Fred Kroeger. Mashaw was the executive director of a national hardware association, and Kroeger, of Kroeger's Hardware, was a board member.
When Mashaw told his board he was nearing retirement, Kroeger invited him to Durango to look it over. Mashaw liked what he saw.
Mashaw died Sunday in Anacortes, Wash., at age 87.
Dot and he had moved there to be near one of their three daughters, and for the lower elevation.
Bill Mashaw set a very high bar in his work bettering a community, a bar that will not be rivaled for some time. His altruism and leadership, without any interest in praise, made life better for almost everyone in La Plata County.