Don Vanderhoof (1931 — 2017)
The end of 2017 marked the passing of Don Vanderhoof on December 31. One of the most influential leaders of Glenwood Springs over the past half century, Don will be forever remembered for a lifetime of service to our community and his boundless love for family, along with his deep passion for rafting in our region.
Don was born in Rocky Ford, Colorado, in 1931 and arrived in Glenwood Springs by way of Fort Collins as a lad of 15 in 1946. Although young Don initially resisted the move, the family prevailed in order to be with his brother Johnny who was recuperating at the Naval hospital, which had taken over the Hotel Colorado. That began the decades of impact that his family had on our valley.
The family opened Van’s Sporting Goods, and within six years also started the Glenwood Industrial Bank. The Vanderhoofs were heavily involved in Glenwood’s ‘Ski Industry,’ with the launch of Holiday Hill and shepherding its evolution into Ski Sunlight Resort. Don took over the leadership of the bank and led its transition to a community institution with the change to Glenwood Independent Bank in 1990. The bank was a cornerstone of the community, and Don felt great pride when the family involvement continued to grow, with his wife of forty years, Eddi, eldest son, Steve, and Steve’s wife, Wendy, all playing key roles in the management and operations of the bank for many years
Don’s contributions to Glenwood Springs and Western Colorado are too long to list. The Glenwood Post considered giving him the title of “Mr. Glenwood Springs” in 1995. A small portion of his varied involvements include serving two terms as a City Councilman with two years as Mayor; kissing pigs for Garfield Youth Services; running Strawberry days for over a decade; two separate terms as President of the Chamber of Commerce, which also awarded him Citizen of the Year; starting the first Ski Spree; active with Lions club and Kiwanis Man of the Year; and launching, acting and even writing plays for the Defiance Community Players.
Don never shied away from a challenge, whether it was to guide a young bank through the ups and downs of a mountain community’s economy, or to combine two sets of children in a new single family. And he did it all with a quiet grace and confidence that overwhelmed any doubts or obstacles. One of the early pioneers of river runners, Don’s favorite river was the Yampa, and he fondly recalled a multitude of stories, including being on the river with his brother and two daughters when Warm Springs Rapid was formed. Their group was among the first handful of boats to run what has become a classic around the West.
Above this tremendous list of achievements, there is nothing Don was more proud of than his children and grandchildren, many of whom are adults who have been influenced and inspired by Don. Preferring family photos to plaques, his greatest joy came from the quality of character and the contributions of his family, noting with pride that they all have turned out to be great citizens.
Don was predeceased by parents Roy and Irene Vanderhoof and brother John Vanderhoof. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Eddi, and sister Lois Jean Johnson along with numerous nieces and nephews. Surviving children are: Annie Vanderhoof Wirth, Patricia Goddu, Steven (Wendy), David (Pam), Shelly Morgan, Stephanie Munk (Dave) and Randy Rippy (Julie). Grandchildren are Katie, Oliver, Elliot, Kendall, Kaitlyn, Nic, Tessa, Kyle, Kevin, Ella, Paul, Cameron and Jackson. Five great-grandchildren are Cooper, Sadie, Crosby, Finn and Liam.
A service will be held at noon on January 18 at the Mountain View Church. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, charitable donations may be made to Western Colorado Community Foundation for the Vanderhoof Family Fund. Western Colorado Community Foundation | P.O. Box 4334 | Grand Junction, CO 81502 | office: (970) 243-3767
Donations will be distributed to Glenwood Springs nonprofit organizations in Don’s memory later in the year.