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25th Anniversary Colorado Business Hall of Fame

Look through the list of names that make up the Colorado Business Hall of Fame laureates, and it’s hard to miss the big picture.

No history book could better illustrate the history of the Centennial State. The stories of the 136 honored over the past 25 years give readers a glimpse of the grit, creativity and generosity of the men and women who help shape Colorado’s business community.

The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Junior Achievement- Rocky Mountain Inc., co-sponsors of the event, award only those who have truly changed our state for the better, says Robin Wise, CEO of Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain.

“When you look across the landscape of Colorado, there isn’t much that you can lay your eyes on that hasn’t been in some way impacted by this group of laureates,” Wise says.

“Look at agriculture, and the laureates who have something to do with getting water to the plains, and look at the ski industry and what has come out of that.”

William Philpott isn’t surprised that names like Felipe Baca, Walter Cheesman and John Iliff dominated the early years of Hall of Fame awards.

“Most people don’t realize that the Gold Rush, which brought people to Denver in 1858, was something of a bust,” says Philpott, associate professor of history at the University of Denver. “Half of the people who came to Denver left, but when gold was found in places like Central City, Denver became a supply center for the area.”

And while mining drew people here, agriculture – a way to feed those people – became a thriving business, as did the necessity and desire to scatter those people through the city, and provide them with everything from banking to shopping.

Baca, a rancher who helped found Trinidad; Cheesman, whose enthusiasm for business helped him move the railroad through Denver and improve the city’s water system; and Iliff, a cattle rancher and namesake of a theology school, helped turn Denver into a blossoming city.

Look at names like laureate Peter Seibert, founder of Vail Ski Resort, to see the tipping point, when tourism began to boom in the state. Engineering feats – such as the Eisenhower Tunnel, completed in 1979 – transformed travel in the High Country.

“By 1980, you can drive through the mountains,” said Philpott, author of “Vacationland: Tourism and Environment in the Colorado High Country.”

“This shift – this growing sense that tourism could become the major industry for some parts of the state – started after World War II.”

Tourism did more than simply draw people fleetingly to the state, he says. It helped paint the picture of Colorado with vivid hues. Real estate mavens, bankers, college deans spread the word.

“They all pointed to the natural beauty and the whole idea of quality of life became important,” Philpott said.

It was more than simply the ski resorts cashing in on the tourist trade – which is now, by most estimates, the state’s second-largest industry.

Laureates like the Gart brothers and David and Renie Gorsuch tapped into the markets of winter sports apparel and equipment.

As youth were drawn to the state, aerospace companies and other high-tech companies recognized the market was a gold mine, and big businesses made Colorado their anchor.

Laureates like Ron Montoya reflect the growth of the technology industry in the state. But look to his background to see that in addition to business savvy, Hall of Fame laureates share a common love for Colorado and a determination to give back.

“I’ve been involved in every community and every board because I feel like the greatest reward is making an impact in the nonprofit world,” says Montoya, owner of Innov8 Solutions, a supplier of telecommunication and electrical products.

“The feeling I get from serving the community far outweighs making a few bucks.”

Wise notes that altruistic spirit has been essential to the panel of individuals with the challenging task of choosing Hall of Fame recipients. The name “Buell” carries a lot of weight to those in the state who love the theater, thanks to laureate Temple Buell, the late architect of some of Denver’s most notable structures.

“Look at the schools and the hospitals and the foundations and scholarship that these men and women have built,” Wise says. “It’s not only their risk-taking, innovation and vision, but their desire to be philanthropic.”

That aspiration might seem unusual, Philpott says, given that many individuals currently in the state are relatively new to Colorado.

“But this is a place that people immediately take pride in,” Philpott says. “It’s a wonderful place to live, and they want to give back.”

Jake Jabs, president and CEO of American Furniture Warehouse, is an example of a laureate who moved to Colorado, fell in love with his new surroundings and opted to give back.

“I’m a farm kid from Montana who started with nothing,” said Jabs. “Colorado has been good to me.”

The Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado Denver taps into one of the state’s greatest potentials, he says.


“We need more entrepreneurs from all walks of life,” he says. “All college students should take a class in business. They should learn you have to take risks, and you have to have passion for what you do.”

Jabs says he was surprised to be named a Hall of Fame award recipient in 2012.

“I didn’t get into business for the money and I’m not a social butterfly,” he says, then laughs. “I had to dust off my tuxedo before the banquet.”

But the honor meant the world to him, he recalls.

Montoya reflects the same sentiment.

“I’m relishing it,” he says. “I have some customers who now say, ‘I never realized that we were working with someone so well respected in the business community.’ It has become part of me, and I’m humbled by it.”

Future laureates will continue to represent the grit of the pioneers who built the state, says Wise, adding that the list will soon include more women and minorities, as they continue to make strides in all aspects of Colorado’s marketplace.

“This next generation thinks globally, and they are color blind – not judgmental when it comes to race, religion or anything else,” she says.

“I look at our laureates and I ask the question: ‘What’s the rest of the story?’ To our young people I ask, ‘How will you build upon the legacy of the great laureates who came before you?’”

The 25th Anniversary
Business Hall of Fame

Hyatt Regency Denver
at the Convention Center

Jan. 30, 2014
The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a VIP reception, followed by a general reception at 6 p.m.
The program begins at 7 p.m., and dinner will be served at 8 p.m.

Ticket information and details: Coloradobusinesshalloffame.org



A 25th anniversary is a great time to reminisce. With that in mind, this year, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Junior Achievement have decided to bring the legendary contributions of past laureates to life in a memorable production.

Robin Wise, CEO of Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain, promises the evening will be enlightening and entertaining.

Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, will speak at the event. Brooks, the author of numerous books and articles on economics, was a professor of business and government policy at Syracuse University before he started at AEI. Throughout his varied career, he has worked as a professional musician, a music teacher, and a professor of everything from economics to nonprofit management.

In 2008, he left academia to join the AEI, and since has worked with the organization’s scholars and staff to fight for better policy. He speaks around the word about the free enterprise movement.


// LAUREATE HISTORY: 1990-2013 //


Clifford E. Baldridge

Claude K. Boettcher

Adolph Coors

Charles Cassius Gates

Carl A. Norgren

General William Jackson Palmer



Benjamin Harrison Eaton

John Evans

William D. Farr

Spencer Penrose

Jesse Shwayder



Barney Ford

Lloyd King

Otto Mears

David H. Moffat

Churchhill Owen



D.R.C. (Darcy) Brown, Jr.

William N. Byers

Roger D. Knight, Jr.

Henry M. Porter

Frank H. Ricketson, Jr.



C.K. (Chet) Enstrom

Cecil J. Hernandez

Elrey B. Jeppesen

Nicholas R. Petry

Anna C. Petteys


Helen Bonfils

Arthur E. Johnson

Bob Johnston

Ken Monfort

Aksel Nielsen



Eugene H. Adams

William K. Coors

Bill Daniels

Emily Griffith

W. Clarence Kurtz



Philip F. Anschutz

Elwood M. Brooks

Dana H. Crawford

Daniel L. Ritchie

William Thayer Tutt



Felipe Baca

Walter S. Cheesman

George E. Cranmer

Charles C. Gates, Jr.

Frank S. Hoag, Sr.

Mary Elitch Long

John A. Love

Robert T. Person, Sr.



Sam Gary

Del Hock

Bob Magness

Dr. John Malone

LaRae Orullian

Russell T. Tutt



Kathryn Hach-Darrow

Ed McVaney

Alan Phipps

Gerald Phipps

Richard and Ed Robinson

Horace Tabor



Thomas Bailey

William Bent

Cortlandt Dietler

Walter A. Koelbel

Hannah Levy

William Dean Singleton



Morley Ballantine

Franklin and Joy Burns

Charles Hansen

Emmett Heitler

Joe Wagner



Lloyd Chavez

John W. Iliff

Roger Reisher

Peter Seibert Sr.

Robert G. Tointon



A.B., Edward and Barry Hirschfeld

William J. Hybl

Frederick R. Mayer

Leonard C. Burch

Robert S. Everitt



Kent and Caroline

Charles Boettcher

Thor and Gerald Groswold

Carl M. Williams



Tom Gleason

A.V. Hunter

Harry T. Lewis, Jr.

Dave and Gail Liniger

Morris “Moe” Miller

Robert Hoag Rawlings



Herb Bacon

Henry Cordes Brown

Al Cohen

John Fuller

Ralph Peterson



Samuel Addoms

Louis Clinton, Jr.

Harry Frampton

J. K Mullen

William Vollbracht



Bruce Benson

Cathey M. Finlon

The Loo Family

Sam Maynes

Jordon Perlmutter

Jack Vickers



Hank Bosco

Merle Chambers

The Gart Brothers

Fred Hamilton

James Wallace



Charles Gallagher

Walter Imhoff

Mary Ann Padilla

Myron “Micky” Miller

Bob Young



Peter Coors

Raymond Duncan

David & Renie Gorsuch

Jacob “Jake” Jabs

J. Landis “Lanny” Martin



Temple Buell

Glenn Jones

Don Kortz

Ron Montoya

Rod and Beth Slifer

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Maria Martin

Maria Martin is a freelance writer.

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