Newsman, civil servant Al Maggard remembered for contributions
Al Maggard was one of my first editors when I became a cub reporter at the old Glenwood Post, fresh out of college. He rode me hard, always pointing out what mattered to Glenwood Springs readers and what didn’t. He was one of my best editors up until his last days, often Facebook messaging me to point out a factual error in a story or just to say good job. Al will be missed.
— John Stroud
Al Maggard was a fairly quiet man, except when he had something to say. In that case, you’d best listen.
“He didn’t talk a lot and wasn’t much for casual conversation,” recalled Ann Maggard, his daughter and longtime fellow Glenwood Springs Elks Lodge member.
“When he did talk, he wanted you to listen, because he had something to say that was necessary to hear,” she said.
It was one of the character traits that Elks leaders across the country would often point out.
“They would always come up to me and say, ‘He doesn’t talk a lot, but boy does he have a lot to say when he does,’ ” Ann said.
His other daughter, Lucy, recalled a story from the late 1970s, when Al was working for Garfield County as head of the emergency communications dispatch center. He spoke before the county commissioners, trying to convince them to make some changes, and his point didn’t seem to be getting through to them.
He essentially got up and stormed out with a parting chastise to the effect of, “Well, you figure it out!”
“They listened to him after that,” Lucy said.
The Glenwood Springs community will take pause later this week to remember one of the town’s most colorful characters. Al Maggard died Jan. 16 at the age of 89 following a lengthy illness and hospital stay. An official Elks Memorial takes place at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Stephen Catholic Church, followed by a reception at the Elks Lodge.
Standing at 6-foot-3 with long white hair and beard, often wearing a Western-style vest and bolo tie, Maggard was one of the more recognizable residents at the forefront of many community events.
A radio announcer for radio station KGLN when he first arrived in Glenwood Springs in 1957, Maggard was later the owner of the Morning Reminder and Sage Reminder newspapers along with his wife, Charlotte, who preceded him in death in 1973.
He also had a frame shop for many years on Grand Avenue and was well known for his candy making. At first, he sold candy up front and did his framing in the back of the store.
“But the framing was more lucrative than selling candy, even though that was his passion,” Lucy said.
Between his framing business and work for the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, Maggard spent a few years as a reporter and then news editor for the Glenwood Post in the late 1980s.
After Charlotte died at a young age, Al didn’t think twice about being a single dad and raising two daughters.
“Our mother died when we were 9,” Lucy said of she and Ann, who are just 10 months apart. “Back in the ’70s, men didn’t often keep their children if something happened to their mom.”
Added Ann, “A lot of people were so impressed with that decision.”
Maggard continued his jack-of-all-trades lifestyle and became involved in the community in a variety of ways. He joined the Jaycees and later the Elks Lodge and the Kiwanis Club, served as the Garfield County Republican Party Chairman and filled a vacancy on Glenwood Springs City Council in the mid-1980s.
He was the first chairman of the Glenwood Parks and Recreation Commission, the long-time chairman of the city’s former Alcohol Beverage Hearing Board, and served on many Chamber of Commerce committees. For the county, he chaired the Community Corrections Board and was chairman of the Jail Advisory Board during the design and construction of the county’s current detention facility in the 1990s.
In a late 1990s profile published in the Glenwood Independent, Maggard recalled working for the Garfield County Jail in the late 1970s when the infamous Ted Bundy was being held there before his escape from said jail.
“The dispatch girls were scared to death of him, [so] I made a point of going down there every morning and evening when they took him out and brought him back from Aspen just to give them moral support,” Maggard said in that interview.
“He was quite a guy, and really did a lot for the community and various organizations,” said Bob Zanella, a friend and fellow Jaycees member back in the early 1960s. The two would often converse when Maggard had the Sage Reminder and Zanella ran a nearby bakery downtown.
Zanella recalled one time in the early 1960s when Maggard was to sign on for the morning show on KGLN and he couldn’t get his car started to come into town from his then-home on Three Mile Creek.
“He knew I would be up early and working at the bakery, so he gave me a call to come pick him up for work,” Zanella said.
“One of his biggest successes was raising his daughters,” Zanella added. “It’s tough enough raising kids, let alone being a single father raising girls.”
Dedicated Elk, Kiwanian
Maggard held just about every office there was to hold in the Elks and Kiwanis, both on the local and state level. The Elks’ involvement with youth programs and on veterans issues was a particular passion. Born and raised in Sterling, Colorado, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps out of high school and served two tours in the Korean War.
Rich Luetke said a lot of what he learned about being a good, active Elk, he learned from Maggard.
“He was always there for me if I needed to bounce something off of somebody,” Luetke said. “Especially when it came to the Elks statutes, he knew them inside and out.”
His passion for the organization and its history in Colorado prompted Maggard to write a history book on the 54 Elks lodges in Colorado, including a picture of each of the lodges’ members and information on when and how each lodge was chartered.
Maggard also put his newspaper production skills to work after his own newspaper career, putting together the regular Kiwanis and Elks newsletters.
“Al was just a good friend, a good mentor and a terrific Elk,” Luetke said. “He was tough, but he was always fair.”
Floyd Diemoz of Glenwood Springs was also a good friend of Maggard’s for more than 40 years, and said he was impressed at how sharp Maggard remained in his later years, even though his body was failing.
“During a recent visit with Al, we sat in his library containing thousands of books,” Diemoz recalled. “He was quite a reader and absolutely prized those books. I marveled at the great conversation we were having and especially his memory. I brought up a subject from a book I’d read years ago and was shocked when he said ‘Oh yes, I’ve got that book’ and he pointed to the book in a shelf across the room.
“He contributed at great deal to our community in so many ways,” Diemoz said. “He really knew his business, whatever that business happened to be, and he was very much an asset to Glenwood Springs in what he did in the news business.”
Maggard’s daughters shared a recent message sent from a 25-year-old man who the Maggards took in, along with his mother, when he was younger. Upon learning of Al’s death, he wrote:
“I may have been just a boy, but I hope he knows what a powerful impression you both had on me,” he said of Ann and Lucy. “In regards to Al in particular, it is so incredibly valuable for a boy to have a strong male role model to look up to. To have a good and proper man lead by example, the way he does, is such an incredibly powerful thing.
“It was so kind of you both to open your home to my mother and I, it is something that instilled values in me that I hold very dear and will always try to live up to,” he continued. “You both helped me understand what family truly is, that you build your family through your actions and the bonds you can create with others with those actions …”
A complete obituary on Al Maggard appeared in the Jan. 21 edition of the Post Independent.