Philanthropist, fundraiser Bacon honored this week

Patients in Grand Valley hospitals have felt the Herb Bacon touch, as have students at Mesa State College, and art lovers at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts.

Likewise, troubled kids have been touched at Partners, as have people who have found help from United Way of Mesa County.

To recognize those contributions, and more, the Grand Junction City Council declared Sunday will be Herb Bacon Day. Not coincidentally, it also is Bacon’s 80th birthday.

The Grand Junction Downtown Rotary Club took note of the event Wednesday at noon.

Not too many years ago, Mayor Bruce Hill said, he and Bacon served on a United Way committee.

“He still had the enthusiasm and can-do attitude” that demonstrated “you never really stop giving back to your community,” Hill said. “That’s really Herb Bacon in summary form. That’s just the way he is.”

Bacon’s longtime friend Pat Gormley said Bacon has been indispensable to the Grand Valley.

“Nobody would start a fund drive without him,” Gormley said. “It was always, ‘Well, what does Herb think?’”

Bacon “is in the top five of every list you make,” Mesa State College President Tim Foster said.

“Every capital campaign we’ve had, (Bacon) has been a huge donor,” via his own foundation, that of his wife, Laura May, or that of the Bacon family, Foster said.

Bacon’s sense of community goes back to when his father moved to Grand Junction from Bird City, Kan., to open a bank, Gormley said.

The Bacons stressed not just customer service, but customer knowledge and appreciation.

“The Bacons loosened up what was then a very autocratic, small-town banking world,” Gormley said.

Foster remembers Bacon making Saturday morning cartoons at the Cooper Theater downtown available to holders of savings-account books.

“That was old-school Herb Bacon marketing,” he said.

And Bacon later taught Foster all he knew about fundraising while the two worked on the Gould Challenge to raise money for the art center, Foster said.

His family has been involved with St. Mary’s, Community and Family Health West hospitals, Bacon said.

“They’re all good, and they’re all part of the team,” he said.

Bacon said he has been involved “in a lot of other things, I really don’t know how many. We’ve been involved in United Way when it started and Partners, and they’re both still going.”

Bacon’s accomplishments include induction into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame and being named one of the 25 statewide legendary leaders as a philanthropist by the Community Resource Center in Denver.

Although Bacon’s involvements have been many, Gormley said, “he’s pretty judicious.”

And focused.

“He’s a Methodist, not a Calvinist,” Gormley said, “but he’s the hardest-working man I ever knew.”


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