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:
- why environmentalists should be grateful to Ronald Reagan
- how we can get the most good out of environmental disturbance with Maximum Trashing Utilization
- what the Traditional Western Water Principles are (a column from 2003 that's just as relevant today)
- why small towns should replace traditional "Pioneer Days"celebrations with decidedly non-traditional "New West" festivals (this one's especially funny)
- how the West became a Republican stronghold
- how politicians still don't understand the region's culture and history, and another column on how they mostly overlook and ignore it
- suggestions for what each Western state should pick as its official state firearm
- how to reduce the federal deficit -- by consolidating land management agencies and by charging people who build homes in officially-designated "Stupid Zones"
- and finally, one last piece we're publishing posthumously, musing on the conflict that arises when giving a place official protection ends up drawing even more visitors to it
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.