Farewell, Ivan Doig

Visitors, magazine scammers, and the loss of an American West icon.


We were saddened to hear of the April 9 passing of Ivan Doig, the prolific and down-to-earth writer who was born in rural Montana and set many of his novels in gritty, working-class communities. Doig’s work always carried the aroma of sage and the sweat of hard-lived lives, and we feel honored that he and his wife, Carol, were longtime subscribers and donors to High Country News. Doig told HCN Publisher Paul Larmer once that though he loved our gritty journalism, he was no fan of our change from a black-and-white news tabloid into a “slick” four-color magazine. Why waste cover space on a fancy photograph when we could print good old-fashioned black-inked stories there? Doig promised to keep reading the magazine nonetheless. To honor him, we encourage you to read — or re-read — his books (like This House of Sky, English Creek, Sweet Thunder, Dancing at the Rascal Fair), perhaps savoring them while on a road trip through his beloved West.

April winds brought Kelsey Elwood, a teaching and research assistant at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, to our door. She was in the area to study how those brisk winds affect local farmers’ orchards. Kelsey, a Western Slope native, was delighted to be back on this side of the mountains for a week. She reminisced with fellow Colorado College alum, HCN’s Online Editor Tay Wiles, about mutual friends and old professors.

Sherye Bacon Boylan and her sister, Donna Bacon Widmer, visit High Country News.
Alexis Halbert

Sherye Bacon Boylan, who grew up here in the area but now lives in LeRoy, New York, was in Paonia visiting her sister, Donna, and niece Krista, and they all dropped in to visit HCN headquarters. Sherye told us that their father used to own the old Gambles Hardware building across the street — where HCN was first housed when it relocated to Paonia in 1983 from its birthplace in Lander, Wyoming.

Frank DeMita and Georgia Nakou came all the way from Jersey —  no, not that Jersey, but the largest of the British Channel Islands. Frank first ran across High Country News as a law student in Taos, New Mexico, and has kept an eye on the magazine ever since. They were eager to sample Paonia’s culinary delights, so we sent them off with back issues and a list of scenic hikes to walk off all those tasty meals.

Remember those “Subscriber Alert” notices in recent issues of HCN about an Oregon company sending unauthorized renewal offers? In March, the state’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against 19 companies and nine people accused of running a “sophisticated mail scam” that tricked people into paying inflated prices to renew their subscriptions to various magazines and newspapers, bilking them of some $20 million. Reader R.N. Vredenburg of Grants Pass, Oregon, sent us a clip about the lawsuit and wrote, “Out of business soon? Let’s hope for the best!”  We sure hope so, too!

Alert reader Steve Snyder of Marlin, Texas, sent us a note about our April 13, 2015, story “The West in 72 Hours.” He wrote: “Space shuttles may have landed at Edwards (Air Force Base, in the Mojave Desert), but they were, of course, never launched from there, which is the verb in your story.” Thanks for the careful read, Steve. Also in that issue, we referred to the Grand Tetons rather than Grand Teton National Park, and “Glacier National Park” appeared as “Galcier.” Ouch. HCN regrets the errors.­­

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