McDonald named OCCHS president

       After a May vote of the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) board named him its president for the next 12 months, Phil McDonald wrote in the non- profit group's monthly newsletter, West Word, that he was taking the position “with no small measure of reluctance.”

Phil McDonald
Westside Pioneer photo

       Asked about that statement later, McDonald commented, “I really wasn't joking all that much.” His feeling stems from his appreciation for Joanne Karlson, who stepped down after two years at the helm, including the organizing of the Sesquicentennial (150th-year) celebration of Colorado City's founding last year. “Joanne did such a marvelous job,” elaborated McDonald, who had been her vice president. “I'm reluctant to step into her shoes. It's a hard act to follow.”
       He listed other benefits of heading the all-volunteer, non-profit organization, noting its proactive efforts to preserve the Westside's past, its good financial shape with 300 dues-paying members, the range of regional historic publications in its bookstore and the crowds - ranging from decent to standing room only - that attend the frequent speaking presentations in the OCCHS's Old Colorado City History Center at 1 S. 24th St.
       “If I had one goal,” McDonald said, when asked if he had any “vision” as president, “it would be to expand our active involvement. Not all our members are equally active. I'm constantly thinking of ways to stimulate involvement.” For example, he said he is trying to involve “at least three new people” in the planning of next fall's annual dinner. “Initially they [the board] wanted me to do it, and I could have, but I think the value of any organization is spreading the responsibility around and exercising oversight to be sure it's accomplished.”
       McDonald moved to this area from Des Moines, Iowa, in 2001. He's retired from a career (not surprisingly) as a history teacher. People attending the OCCHS' annual “Cemetery Crawl” event at Fairview Cemetery in recent years would have found him portraying Colorado City's Dr. Isaac Adler Winternitz (famous for having been shot by a girl's father when he refused, because of public health reasons around the turn of the century, to bury her when she died of diptheria).
       In a West Word farewell article, Karlson wrote that she is “retiring again” after six years on the OCCHS board. She and her husband Werner, who ran the Colorado Avenue Dairy Queen for many years, plan to travel and “participate at the History Center on a different level,”she wrote.

Westside Pioneer article