Adios, Ed Quillen

Ed Quillen

Ed Quillen

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.

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8 Responses to “Adios, Ed Quillen”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Thanks, Patrick, as usual, for your efforts at providing credit where credit is due.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ah, shit, K, it was a serious bummer to get that call from Hal last night. Ed wasn’t one of the overpaid, clock-watching hacks we see nibbling away at the corpse of the daily paper in the long twilight of Journalism As We Know It. He was one of the good ones, and as you know, only the good die young.

  2. Hayseed Says:

    Quick correction: Ed wasn’t 62, but just 61. DOB of 11/12/1950, so he was five months and a few days shy of 62 when he lit out for the big newsroom in the sky.

    I asked him when he and Martha visited me barely two weeks ago if he had any retirement plans, considering his type-2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease (neither of which claimed him). He said no, he hoped to die in the saddle — aside from whether he could afford it, he said he liked what he did.

    Guess he got his wish.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thanks for the cx, Hayseed. I took the 62 from the original Post item. And there are worse ways to go, eh? Ed and George Carlin both did what they did right up until the moment the curtain fell for the final time. I think of it as the Universe’s way of saying, “Thank you.”

  3. Khal Spencer Says:

    And in news from Wisconsin, “People are Stupid”

  4. Khal Spencer Says:

    So is Hawaii, O’G. My old buddy Ben Cayetano is running for mayor. He and I were on opposite sides of the table during the big 2001 Univ. of Hawaii faculty strike. Know what happened when the strike was settled? We had lunch together. Everyone gave a little. The reason Ben and I had lunch was because when the rhetoric got ugly and ad hominem from the union side, I told some other Board members to STFU unless they had something constructive to say–that apparently got back to Ben.

    Ben was a Dem, but a streetfighter who grew up on the other side of the tracks and put himself through law school. He at one time drove a 911 and rumor had it was packing heat. He didn’t have much use for Ph.D.’s who sounded like spoiled children. My kind of guy…

    Sometimes it helps to remember that at the end of the day, you gotta go back to working with each other. People expect services, but you get better services when you solve issues constructively rather than with a boot on the neck. Scorched earth doesn’t work so well when you are on a postage stamp size island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I think Hawaii has something that others should learn. Especially the good folks in Wisconsin.

  5. Derek Says:

    Send some of that learnin’ out here would you some of our politicians could use some,

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