Farewell to a wise curmudgeon


On Sunday, the West lost a unique voice – journalist Ed Quillen, who for nearly three decades had written about the region's communities and issues with a keen eye for irony and an appreciation for history.

Ed died at his home in Salida, Colo. at the all-too-young age of 61. "Colorado has lost one of its most thoughtful and colorful characters," said Curtis Hubbard, editorial page editor of the Denver Post, where Ed was a regular op-ed columnist.

He also frequently contributed to High Country News.  Here's a list of some highlights from the many pieces he wrote for us, ranging from provocative solutions for thorny problems, to political analyses, to humorous satires:

Ed also wrote or co-wrote many books, including Deep in the Heart of the Rockies and Out the Back, Down the Path: Colorado Outhouses. For the entire Quillen canon, see Ed's website, www.edquillen.com.

Here's a brief bio of Ed, condensed from his own description of his life.

Ed was born in 1950 in Greeley, Colo. and grew up in Evans, in a log house his father built. At Greeley West High School he started an underground newspaper and worked on the regular school paper. He attended the University of Northern Colorado (it was Colorado State College when he started) off and on from 1968 to 1974, generally majoring in English. He was editor of the campus paper, the Mirror, in 1970-71.

While in college, he met Martha; they were married in the summer of 1969 and have two daughters, Columbine and Abby. Ed dropped out of college in 1972 to report for the weekly Longmont Scene, and then reported to the U.S. Army (in typical wry fashion, he notes that the Army  "quickly agreed (with him) that he was not military material and gave him an honorable discharge").

In 1974, Ed and Martha went to work for the weekly Middle Park Times in Kremmling; they bought it a year later, then sold it in 1977. They moved to Salida in the spring of 1978, where Ed was managing editor of its small daily, The Mountain Mail, until 1983, when decided to freelance full-time. Martha and Ed founded Colorado Central Magazine, a regional monthly, in 1994, and sold it to Mike Rosso in early 2009.

Our sincere condolences to wife Martha and the entire family. We'll miss Ed's sometimes curmudgeonly, always wise perspective.  You can share your thoughts and memories of Ed at our Facebook page.

This article has been corrected to accurately reflect Ed Quillen's age.

Karyn O'Hearn
Karyn O'Hearn Subscriber
Jun 05, 2012 06:53 PM
I enjoyed all his articles. He will be missed.
Patrick Hunter
Patrick Hunter
Jun 05, 2012 08:27 PM
For very many years I have unbagged my copy of the Sunday Denver Post and turned straight to Ed Quillen's column in Perspective. Which is never easy, they do everything they can to hide it. I read Ed and Books; that's about all. On several occasions, I have written to the paper demanding to know why the section did not arrive, or Ed was on vacation and didn't turn in a column. I said the New York Times puts in a note when Paul Krugman is taking some time off. He's my other favorite.
I even complained when Ed's column was too far back in the section. The editor wrote back and said: "How else can we get people to read all the way through?"
Often I have sent Ed a note of congratulations when he, as usual, hit the nail squarely on the head. Hardly a year goes by when I don't talk to a few folks about "stupid zones". As a former local planning board member, I have a rich appreciation for such zoning.
I was really happy to start seeing some of Ed's columns in the High Country News. Each time I get the HCN email, I would look through the blogs to see if his was in.
I never met Ed, but I thought of him as a kindred soul.
I will miss his writing very, very much.
Sarah Franklin
Sarah Franklin
Jun 06, 2012 12:48 AM
I'm crushed. First Molly Ivins, now Ed Quillen. He was the best thing in the Denver Post.
Richard Michael Boyden
Richard Michael Boyden Subscriber
Jun 08, 2012 02:34 AM
Ed was definitely imbued with the spirit of the Western United States, a quality only natives to our area can understand. His natural love for the area showed in his writing by how he wanted to glorify and protect our heritage and values. He even was thoughtful enough to want to update this heritage by bringing it more inline with the latest environmental and ecological understanding. Anybody know why he gave up our company at such an early age?