Modest Maggard has contributed to county in his own quiet way
Post Independent Staff
Al Maggard doesn’t seem overly impressed with his accomplishments during his nearly 50 years in Glenwood Springs.
“I don’t know that I’ve done anything special. Just kept myself busy enjoying life.”
The facts, and very likely a lot of his friends, speak otherwise.
Among other things, Maggard has run a newspaper, worked in radio, operated a picture framing business, helped introduce forensic photography to Garfield County, served as a citizen advisor in the building of the new county jail, and given his time to the Jaycees, Kiwanis and Elks organizations.
OK. So maybe, Maggard concedes, doing enough things over enough years does start to add up to something worthwhile. “In the long run, you keep at it, you plug away at it and the first thing you know you have accomplished a little bit, and maybe you’ve helped someone or helped the community,” he said.
County operations manager Dale Hancock said Maggard has helped the county quite a bit. He describes Maggard as tireless, hard-working and committed ” and an avid classical music listener to boot. When Hancock drove a van with several jail board advisory members to look at a facility in Sturgis, S.D., Maggard had classical music playing as he toiled away in back on some work he had brought with him.
“He’s got this intensity of purpose and focus on whatever he’s doing and this classical music is just part of the passion,” Hancock said.
Maggard now works part-time for the county Sheriff’s Department. He also helps prepare the Kiwanis “Good News Edition” that appears monthly in the Post Independent, and does the Elks newsletter while also serving as an officer with the Elks at the state level.
“He’s not ever going to hang it up. He’s kind of a long-run, stay-engaged kind of guy,” Hancock said.
Maybe Maggard’s work ethic came from growing up during the Depression, and helping his family struggle to get by on a dryland farm during the drought of the 1930s.
“I remember the dust storms and the fine sand and getting out of school because the dust was blowing so hard you couldn’t see,” he said.
Maggard served in the Marine Corps from 1946-54. His time included a stint in the Korean War, where, at least to hear Maggard describe it in his understated manner, he saw only a little bit of fighting. “I didn’t have to do too much,” he said.
“That first winter was cold,” was about all he had to say about the famously frigid conditions troops endured during that war.
Maggard also did a stint in Japan with Armed Forces Radio, which got him interested in broadcasting. He went to a trade school in California and earned a radio engineer license, and pursued his career in Arizona and New Mexico before coming to Colorado.
Maggard said he was going to interview in Grand Junction for a television job at KREX but learned the KGLN radio station in Glenwood Springs needed an announcer/engineer, and got the job.
His switch to print media came as a result of meeting his wife, Charlotte. She majored in journalism at the University of Colorado and interned at the Glenwood Post. The two met when she was working at the Hotel Colorado.
In 1963 they bought the Morning Reminder, a mimeographed daily newspaper. Maggard’s only prior newspaper experience had been for his high school paper. But this was a chance for him and his wife to do something together. “She did a lot of the selling and I did a lot of the writing and worked the press,” he said.
Charlotte died in 1973. “The fun went out of it after that,” said Maggard, who sold the paper shortly afterward. It changed hands several times and eventually became the Free Weekly, which closed down in the early 1990s.
Maggard, who later worked as news editor for the Glenwood Post, said he enjoyed the people and writing aspects of newspaper work. “It’s just a good feeling to create something,” he said.
He got the same feeling doing picture framing. “You’re creating something and helping people enjoy something of theirs,” he said.
He first dabbled in framing because of a longtime interest in photography. He shot landscapes, and then became involved in police work, helping with his camera on autopsies and at crime scenes.
Forensic photography was new then, at least for Garfield County. Maggard began doing some work for then-Sheriff Ralph Baker, and before long was getting some schooling, and eventually teaching classes on the subject.
One particularly memorable case for Maggard involved the first time he shot video for an autopsy. The victim was a man found frozen in a creek in Aspen. “It turned out he was a murder victim and they used the video to help solve the crime,” Maggard said.
Today, Maggard lives in Glenwood with daughter Lucy. He also has a second daughter, Ann Gremel, and one grandchild.
He’s easily recognizable around town. Tall, and often dressed in a blazer and vest, he sports a beard he’s had since coming to Glenwood Springs, and a white mane of hair. “It just happened” he said of the striking resemblance he now bears to Buffalo Bill.
But Maggard lacks the flamboyance for which Buffalo Bill is famous. Modest, a little inscrutable and a man of few words, at least about himself, he’s far more comfortable interviewing others than having the spotlight turned on him.
“He’s so taciturn and he plays his card so tight,” Hancock said. “He’s just a tough read ” always will be, always has been.”
Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516
Name: Al Maggard
Hometown: Sterling, Colo.
How long in Garfield County: 48 years
Occupation: Works part-time in records in the Sheriff’s Department
Favorite place in Garfield County: Glenwood Springs. “I just like it here. I’ve got no desire to go anywhere else. I take a trip every once in a while but always come back here.”
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