Longtime Colorado scribe Ed Quillen went west on Sunday. He was just 61.
When I was a young punk in the journalism program at the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley, where Ed had run the student paper some years earlier, an exasperated adviser told me Ed was probably the only editor in the state who would hire me.
And he did, eventually — though not to work at the Longmont Scene, the Middle Park Times in Kremmling, the Summit County Times in Breckenridge or the Mountain Mail in Salida. I’d burned through a half-dozen newspaper gigs in 12 years and had turned free-lancer before Ed finally hired me to do a thing or two for his Salida-based magazine, Colorado Central, which goes to show you how much academics know about the real world outside their ivy-covered cloisters.
Once, when I was seriously overtrucked and living outside Weirdcliffe, my friend and colleague Hal Walter, then and now a Colorado Central columnist, prevailed upon me to loan Ed a vehicle so he could drive to a speaking engagement in Trinidad. At the time, Ed smoked like a landfill fire, and I asked him not to befoul my ’83 Toyota’s cab with nicotine (though I myself had smoked in the thing back in the Eighties). Ed agreed, and the trip took a good deal longer than it should have because he stopped every 15 minutes or so to step out and burn one.
When Ed and his wife, Martha, weren’t wrangling Colorado Central he wrote for The Denver Post, High Country News and HCN’s Writers on the Range syndicate. A selection of his Post columns was published in 1998 as “Deep In the Heart of the Rockies,” and you can read a number of his more recent pieces in the Post‘s archive.
Ed was always worth reading, an old newshound who sought to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Finley Peter Dunne had his Mr. Dooley — who is enjoying something of a renaissance at Charles P. Pierce’s Politics blog — and Ed had his Ananias Ziegler, media relations director of the Committee That Really Runs America.
Here’s hoping they’re enjoying smokes and jokes at the Thirty Club. Ed, you will be missed.
Ed Quillen is survived by his wife, Martha; their daughters, Columbine and Abby; and a few million words squirreled away on his website. My condolences to his family, friends and many readers.
More about Ed:
• High Country News: Farewell to a wise curmudgeon.
• The Denver Post: Ed’s obit.
• Westword: Michael Roberts pens a remembrance.