‘Mr. Glenwood Springs,’ Don Vanderhoof, a life remembered
Don Vanderhoof, a former Glenwood Springs mayor, community leader, businessman and brother of late Colorado Gov. John Vanderhoof, has died.
Vanderhoof died Sunday, New Year’s Eve, in the company of his children, grandchildren and other family members who were in town for the holidays. He was 86.
“The thing that brought him the most pleasure was his desire to give back to the community. That was always one of his big missions,” said his son, Steve Vanderhoof, who worked alongside his dad at the former Glenwood Independent Bank.
“It was important to him, and he always enjoyed serving the community,” his son said.
Don Vanderhoof graduated from high school in Glenwood Springs after his family, including older brother John, relocated here. John and their dad, Roy, opened Van’s Sporting Goods and later the bank, known initially as Glenwood Industrial Bank.
Don, after working for the state Highway Department in Grand Junction, was convinced to come work with his father and brother at the bank, Vanderhoof said in an interview conducted by Immigrant Stories author Walter Gallacher last summer.
“Over the years, we earned a good reputation for being a reliable, community-oriented bank that made small loans to working people,” Vanderhoof said in that interview.
During his time running the bank, Vanderhoof became deeply involved in the Glenwood Springs business community, including with the Glenwood Chamber. He chaired the Strawberry Days committee for several years, and spearheaded the effort to bring the popular Drums Along the Rockies group to Glenwood for several years running in the 1980s.
“He was one of the most amazing leaders I’ve worked with,” said longtime Chamber Resort Association President and CEO Marianne Virgili.
“Don taught me so much about service leadership, and leading with a sense of humor,” she said. “He was witty, smart, generous, firm when he needed to be, and we were incredibly lucky to have him in this community.”
After serving as chamber board chairman on two different occasions, Vanderhoof was elected to Glenwood Springs City Council in 1995. Earlier that year, he was referred to in a Glenwood Post profile as “Mr. Glenwood Springs.”
Vanderhoof went on to serve on City Council until 2003, including two years as the city’s appointed mayor from 2001-03. He was mayor during the devastating June 2002 Coal Seam Fire, in which several West Glenwood homes were lost.
Longtime friend Carleton “Hub” Hubbard recalled introducing Vanderhoof around Glenwood after he first moved to town. One day, they were having coffee at the former Hested’s five-and-dime store downtown when the fire sirens went off.
“The firehouse was close by, but the fire truck didn’t come out right away,” Hubbard recalled. “Then we saw three or four guys pushing the truck down Grand Avenue to try to get it started.
“Don wondered whether this was the right place for him, or not,” Hubbard said with a laugh.
“We had a lot of good times together, with the Lions Club, rafting, skiing, you name it,” he said. “We were just really good buddies, and our families have been close for a long time.”
A full obituary is to appear later this week in the Post Independent. Memorial services have not been announced at this time.
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