Summer is reunion time, in large part because festivities can be held outside and also because it’s safer for people to travel. Families and old classmates come together, and the stories flow fast and furiously beginning with the immortal phrase, “Remember when?”
In spite of all the growth, there are still families here who have roots going back generations, families that built La Plata County, so of course, they have to hold their reunions here.
One of those families is the Hogans. Since the eponymous downtown landmark store is now Sorrel Sky Gallery, it’s easy to forget what a downtown anchor that store was for decades. My generation tends to equate Hogan’s with Mickey Hogan and Jerry Poer, but it was Mickey Hogan’s parents, Charles and Georgie (also known as “Granny”) Hogan who raised their family of six children here and founded the store in 1929.
Georgie Hogan had begun visiting Durango in the summers in 1890, with her family moving here in 1896. Charles Hogan didn’t get here until the next century, in 1906. They married in 1911. After learning the retail business from the Sloan/Ayres family at Graden Mercantile Co., Charles Hogan opened his own establishment, which would endure for 82 years.
On Aug. 1 and 2, their descendants gathered in Durango to catch up and have some fun at their first ever reunion. On Aug. 1, they got together at the Durango Community Recreation Center, and on the next day, it was time for some family fun in a place named after another founding family, Folsom Park. Bocce ball, anyone?
Mickey Hogan, 85, and Eleanor Hogan Robb, 91, are the couple’s two youngest children and the only ones living. They were both there, as was Betty Gale Hogan, the widow of Gerald Hogan. They held the rank of elders at the reunion.
Charles and Georgie’s family also includes 33 grandchildren, and 30 of them made it. (One is deceased, and two just weren’t able to come.) Numerous great-grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren were all on hand. By the time the head count was complete, 112 people had gathered. (I’m guessing just keeping names straight can be a challenge.)
Mickey Hogan credits Anne Putnam with getting the ball rolling. She sent out about 40 emails asking members of the Hogan clan to pick a date. Then she handed off the final date selection to Mary Beth Hogan Emrich, MaryEl Hogan Emrich (cousins who married brothers), Jerry Poer and Susan Dobkins, and they did the bulk of the organizing.
Descendants of every one of Charles and Georgie’s children were there. (The others who have passed away were Pat Hogan, John Hogan and Mary Margaret Hogan Poer.) The reunion was also the first time in 44 years that all nine of Mary Margaret Poer’s children were together, and some of the great-grandchildren had never met each other, so it was definitely time.
Farthest travel honors probably go to Joanne Staats, who came from New Hampshire, and Nancy Poer Ryan, who made the trip from New Jersey. A lot of folks made their way from California and Oregon. But no matter where they have ended up, Durango is the family hub.
I asked Mickey Hogan to tell me his favorite story about his family.
“When my mother died in 1984,” he said, “Morley Ballantine wrote an editorial saying ‘The matriarch of the Hogan family is gone, so Mickey Hogan becomes the patriarch.’ My older brother Pat said I could be the patriarch as long as I remembered who was the head honcho. Now I guess I’m the head honcho, too.”
His favorite memory of the reunion?
“There was not a bad word, no one got upset, no one got in a fight,” he said. “The caterer told me this was the most well-behaved family of any family reunion she had ever catered, that everyone was so nice.”
A family that enjoys spending time together. Imagine that.
Lemonade? Check. Picnic? Check. Happy birthday? Hope so for these folks – Summer Lynch, Rosine Stout, Ron Ollier, Don Ollier, Julie Schultz, Sonya Fleming, Susan Plvan, Michael Plvan, Michael Rohren, Van Butler, Scott McClellan, Karen Anderson, Kent Herath, Jennifer Rudolph, Anna McBrayer, Christine Priaulx, Emily Robertson, John White, Roy Cook, Peri Ann Milner and Bob Lundquist.
I often write about the Rotary Clubs in Durango, but there are still many people who just don’t understand what a service club is. So here’s your chance to find out.
From 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, it’s Rotary Day – where else but in Rotary Park, the one with the gazebo behind the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4031, 1550 Main Ave. They’re serving ice cream, and it will be a chance to get to know all three clubs in town – Rotary Club of Durango, the granddaddy club, founded in 1929; Durango High Noon Rotary Club; and Durango Daybreak Rotary Club.
It will be fun, it will be casual and informative, and there will be a touch of Rotary’s international reach with visitors from a Rotary Club in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.
I wrote a story about a fire on Florida Mesa on Thursday night, and it was very kindly pointed out to me that everyone involved is a professional – volunteers go through extensive training, too – but some are volunteer and some are career firefighters.
Our fire protection districts in this geographically spread-out community could not give us the protection levels they do without these dedicated volunteer firefighters, so consider this my homage to them.
These folks jump up from dinner, leave their children’s birthday parties and walk away from work when a neighbor’s home and property are in danger from fire, and they are doing it at no small risk to themselves. When they show up to fight a fire, no one asks if they’re volunteer or career. They’re just firefighters.
I think we need to throw them an ice cream social or something, folks. Or at the very least, take the time to say thank you when you see them at the bank or supermarket.
Talk about community members who give back!
Enjoying untraditional anniversaries with a trip to the La Plata County Fair are Craig and Charlie Wright, David and Susan Kolb, Greg and Kelly Winter, Scott and Carol Wallace, Jon and Peeb Lupia and Hall and Joan Sippy.
The Rose Society’s annual show is partnering with the La Plata County Fair today, but it won’t be the same without Don and Shirley Spangsberg, who are also celebrating their anniversary this weekend. They recently moved from Durango to be near family, but their roses will not be forgotten. She once gave me a beautiful floral arrangement with 18 different types of roses in it, and she carefully made a list of what each one was. When they weren’t growing roses, she was photographing them.
They brought beauty to our community in more ways than one, and they will be missed.
Special anniversary greetings go to Gordon and Marcia Clouser, who are celebrating their golden anniversary this week. I know you don’t like public attention, but come on, your 50th? Got to make a fuss about that!
They met as college students working at the YMCA Camp of the Rockies at Estes Park (she from Purdue University, he from the University of Oklahoma), and after traveling the world with his Air Force career, they decided to make Colorado their home. And are we lucky they did.
Since they are the definition of low-key when it comes to their personal life, their golden anniversary celebration will be a quiet one with family and friends.
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