‘A man of compassion and integrity’
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Businessman, family man and “one of the good guys,” Mike Fattor was named Citizen of the Year Saturday at the annual Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association ball.
“You’re just looking at a guy who was in the right place at the right time,” said Fattor, 68, as he accepted the award.
In his typically understated style, Fattor heaped credit and thanks on his wife and family, his business partners and his banker.
“I’ve been blessed with a lot of partnerships,” he said. “Guys gave me advice even when I wasn’t asking for it. I was just listening for it, and they said things that stuck.”
A big dose of that advice came from his father, Jim Fattor, who got Mike started in the petroleum wholesaling business in Glenwood Springs, and was himself the second winner of the chamber’s Citizen of the Year Award.
“The apple didn’t fall far from the tree,” said Tillie Fischer, another past Citizen of the Year, who presented the award at the start of the chamber’s annual gala ball, held at the Hotel Colorado. She noted that Mike Fattor is the first child of a previous winner to earn the highest honor bestowed by the chamber.
After receiving a standing ovation from the audience, Fattor said the honor came as a complete surprise.
Nominations for the honor came from Kjell Mitchell, general manager of the Hot Springs Pool, Brian Kline, president of the Elks Lodge, District Attorney Martin Beeson, the Rev. Cliff McMillan of St. Stephen Catholic Church, and Fattor’s two grown daughters.
Thanks to a widespread conspiracy, Fattor’s three brothers, Tim, Joseph and Terry, were all in attendance. His daughters, Stephanie Templon and Katie Danielson, and two young grandsons, Patrick and Joseph Templon, arrived secretly from out of state and stepped out of the crowd to hug and congratulate him.
Although Fattor is a strong supporter of the chamber, he and his wife, Carol, don’t always attend the ball. The ruse, she said, was that he would be accepting an award for Valley View Hospital along with fellow hospital board member Jeff Carlson.
In a tribute video shown as part of the award presentation, Fattor won praise from Gary Brewer, CEO of Valley View Hospital.
“When he’s involved in something, he’s all in,” Brewer said of Fattor, who has served as the board president and is currently the chair of the finance committee. “He’s the most generous person I have ever been associated with.”
The Citizen of the Year award comes as Fattor enters his 50th year of being a Glenwood Springs resident.
Jim and Dorothy Fattor and their four sons had lived in Denver, where Jim was in business selling tires and batteries. In 1962, shortly after Mike graduated from Regis High School, Jim Fattor was offered the consignee’s position in Glenwood Springs running the Texaco bulk plant, and the family moved.
The consignee’s post was similar to a franchise. Jim Fattor sold gasoline and diesel fuel to the Texaco stations in Glenwood Springs and neighboring communities, and to companies that purchased fuel in bulk. They also sold oil, grease, tires, batteries and vehicle accessories.
Young Mike Fattor wasn’t in town much in those early years. He attended Mesa College in Grand Junction, and finished his bachelor’s degree at St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City, Kan. Right after graduation, he was drafted into the Army.
He served for two years from 1966-68 during the Vietnam War, although he never went overseas.
Once he came home from the service, Mike went into business with his father. For years, it was called Fattor and Son Petroleum. Today, Fattor’s business is called Western Petroleum.
In 1970, a friend set Mike up on a blind date with Carol Gavinski, who had moved here a year earlier and worked as a nurse at Glenwood Medical Associates.
“We dated for a year, and then we got married in 1971,” said Carol Fattor, “We just celebrated our 40th anniversary.”
She remembers those early years, when Mike was working long weeks and serving as a volunteer firefighter.
“He was gone most of the time. He’d work six or seven days a week,” she said. “When we were first married, to be together I’d go with him to drive the fuel truck.” They’d stay up all night, driving the truck back and forth to Gypsum.
That closeness is still there, Carol said. “We are best friends, and very much in love with each other after 40 years of marriage.”
Mike worked hard to build the business, shifting over to Shell stations after Shell purchased Texaco, and eventually buying what had become a distributorship from his dad.
“Although he’s a successful businessman, he is a truck driver at heart and he never forgets where he came from,” said his daughter Stephanie Templon.
In spite of a demanding occupation and a young family, Mike Fattor began his pattern of community service in the 1970s.
As a volunteer firefighter, Fattor fought fires, drove the ambulance and was on the fireworks teams for the Fourth of July.
He joined the Rotary Club and remains an active member. He joined the Elks Lodge and worked on charitable Christmas and Easter dinners, scholarship fundraising and a program that supplied dictionaries to the local schools.
As a member of St. Stephen Catholic Church, Fattor worked with the congregation and other community leaders to establish St. Stephen School, a private K-8 school. Tom Alby, principal of St. Stephen School, said Mike Fattor has “been everything to St. Stephen School.”
Strawberry Days was always a big time when Fattor wore many of his volunteer hats, flipping burgers for the Elks, filling beer mugs for the Chamber.
In 1980, he was elected to City Council. After serving two years, his fellow council members elected him mayor, and he served as mayor from January 1982 to the end of 1983. It was a key time in the city’s history when city officials were working to annex the commercial areas of West Glenwood.
Over time, as his business prospered, Fattor stepped up his donations to a variety of worthy causes in the community. He donated to human services and the arts, to civic events and celebrations, to the hospital and to education.
Some donations were part of broader community fundraising efforts. Sometimes they were just a check, quietly sent to a certain organization or cause, right at a time of need.
“He often does things without anyone knowing,” said Stephanie Templon. “He has always held firm to the belief that you do something because it is right, not because you will get recognition. His generous spirit has come to the aid of many in need, without anyone around being the wiser.”
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