Former Durango Mayor G. Michael “Mickey” Hogan was a key player in Durango in the second half of the 20th century. He died Sunday at the age of 89.
“Water treatment, sewer system, even paving the streets, all the things we take for granted, Mickey was in the middle of it all,” said John Peel, a former columnist and editor at The Durango Herald who worked with Hogan on his memoir over the past year. “I didn’t appreciate what they did, because when I moved here in 1990, it was all here.”
A Durango native, Hogan spent some time away for college, work and military service. But once he moved back in 1955 to help run the family’s clothing business, Hogan’s, he became part of a group of businessmen and community leaders who helped Durango become what it is today.
One of his earliest volunteer jobs, finance director of the Spanish Trails Fiesta, he took on in 1955. It was one of the biggest events of the summer from its founding in 1935 until 1965, with a Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo and two parades as its centerpiece.
Hogan served on the Durango City Council from 1967 to 1971, and as mayor from 1969 to 1970. From 1971 to the mid-1980s, he chaired the city’s Finance Advisory Committee, with the responsibility to review city expenditures, finalize the annual city budget and recruit candidates to run for the council.
During that time, he was the city’s representative on the Regional Airport Commission, which eventually led to the construction of the current airport on Florida Mesa. Hogan led the effort to pass the airport bond in 1977.
Hogan was also knee-deep in helping to build the skiing culture in town. As president of the Durango Ski Club, he; his wife, Maureen; and Dolph Kuss ran five national skiing championships starting in 1967, and running every other year, including the U.S. National Nordic Championships in 1971.
As a member of the San Juan Development Corp., he helped raise the money to build the first chairlift at Purgatory Ski Area in 1965. The Hogan family bought the first ever family season pass at the area that year.
“Representing the ski club, I asked – conned is probably a more accurate term – (owner) Ray Duncan to give club members a 10% discount on lift tickets,” Hogan wrote in his memoir. “… So pretty soon we had the largest ski club in the Rocky Mountain Division of the U.S. Ski Association.”
Golfers appreciate the results of his work at Hillcrest Golf Club, where he was instrumental in converting a nine-hole sand course into a nine-hole, then 18-hole, grass course.
When Mercy Hospital made a seismic shift in 1977, inviting community members to join its all-Sisters of Mercy board after almost 100 years, Hogan was one of the first two recruited, serving three three-year terms. Mahlon “Butch” White invited him to sit on the board of First National Bank of Durango, now TBK Bank, a directorship he held from 1967 to 2002.
“I often said that Bob Beers was the guy that thought up all the things that should be done to improve the local scene, the economy, whatnot,” Hogan wrote in his memoir. “And then he’d talk to Freddy Kroeger about whether it should be done or not. And if Freddy agreed, why they’d say, ‘Yeah, that’s a good idea. Let’s get Mickey to do that.’”
As a member and president of the Lion’s Club and a longtime participant in one of the Parson’s Drugstore coffee clubs, Hogan kept his finger on the pulse of the town. A devoted family man, Hogan also helped raise five children, although he was quick to note that Maureen kept the home fires burning, allowing him to pursue his community involvement.
Hogan’s unofficial roles as a counselor and mentor may have had as much impact on the community as his formal positions.
“I was a young business owner on Main when I was 20,” said Ed Zink, who co-owned the Outdoorsman with his parents; founded Mountain Bike Specialists and the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic; and organized the World Mountain Bike Championships. “I could go to Mr. Hogan, and he would help me to understand what I should do. And his vast experience with Fiesta Days and skiing championships was critical with the bicycle stuff.”
Perhaps, his oldest daughter, Mary Beth Emrich, said it best.
“He was a great mentor, role model and best friend,” she said. “He had a finger in every pie, but he didn’t do it alone. It was a time when people saw a need, formed a committee and got things done.”
Readers can reach Ann Butler at [email protected]