Former longtime state legislator John Vanderhoof, who became the only governor of Colorado to come from Glenwood Springs, serving from 1973-75, died on Thursday, Sept. 19. He was 91.
“Even as a young businessman in Glenwood Springs, he was always very community minded and was well-respected,” said his younger brother and business partner for many years, Don Vanderhoof of Glenwood Springs.
“Our most fun times were spent out in the wilds of Colorado,” he said of the elder Vanderhoof. “He was a great sportsman, and we were always out rafting the rivers, fishing and hunting.”
John Vanderhoof founded Van’s Sporting Goods in Glenwood Springs with his father, and also started two banks here, including the former Glenwood Independent Bank and the Bank of Glenwood.
He also opened Glenwood Springs’ first ski area in the late 1940s, known as Holiday Hill, which is now part of the larger Sunlight Mountain Resort.
John Vanderhoof was born in Rocky Ford, Colo. on May 27, 1922, and spent the early years of his life in Stove Prairie, west of Fort Collins. Following high school in Fort Collins, he attended Glendale College in California and served in the Navy during WW II.
A leg injury suffered during the war first brought Vanderhoof to Glenwood Springs to convalesce at the Naval hospital here.
“He fell in love with the Glenwood area and convinced his family to relocate to Glenwood,” according to an obituary submitted to the Post Independent.
It was in Glenwood Springs where John Vanderhoof’s political career began. He helped start the Young Republicans organization here, and was urged to run for the Colorado House of Representatives in 1950.
He was elected and served for 20 years in the Colorado House, including a stint at Speaker of the House. In 1970, John Vanderhoof was elected lieutenant governor as part of Gov. John Love’s administration.
When Love left to take a job in Washington, D.C., Vanderhoof was appointed governor, serving as the 37th governor of Colorado from July 16, 1973, until Jan. 14, 1975, after he was defeated for re-election by Democrat Richard Lamm.
He eventually relocated to Grand Junction where he spent the rest of his life. He also served for many years as president of the Grand Junction-based business and government association, Club 20.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 35 years, Ruthie, who died in Grand Junction in 2012.
John Vanderhoof is survived by six children, his brother, Don, a sister, Jean Johnson of Fort Collins, and numerous grand children and great-grandchildren.
A private burial service will be held at a later time in Grand Junction.