Bach tells Hughes: ‘I can’t thank you enough’
A jocular Mayor Steve Bach presented long-time Westside civic leader Dave Hughes with the city's new “Inspirational Leader” award July 1 in a special event at the Old Colorado City History Center.
But he turned serious in handing Hughes the trophy, which is made entirely of glass. “I can't thank you enough,” the mayor said, referring specifically to the man's involvement in revitalizing Old Colorado City in the 1970s and '80s. “I know some people helped you, but it wouldn't have happened without you.”
He admitted that he's recently learned more about the retired Army colonel, who fought in both Korea and Vietnam and received the Distinguished Service Cross. “Now I realize why you're so doggone tough,” Bach said.
Bach poked fun at himself in part of his talk. Referring to Hughes' work in organizing Colorado Springs' 1976 Bicentennial events, the mayor observed that “I had a part” in that, namely one event where “my job was to be sure the sheep didn't get loose.”
Bach treaded softly over a recent difference of opinion, in which Hughes had tried to prevent a costly relocation for the Farmers Market from 24th Street into Bancroft Park (due to newly enforced city regulations). “I periodically get e-mails from him,” Bach said with a grin, but did not elaborate.
The trophy states that it is a “Spirit of the Springs Inspirational Leader” award, which is “presented to David Hughes in appreciation of your dedication and service to Historic Old Colorado City, presented by Mayor Steve Bach.”
In his comments, Hughes shed light on how he got involved with the Westside. Recently retired from the Army (he'd been stationed at Fort Carson), Hughes said he was approached during the Bicentennial effort by two Westsiders - Luther McKnight and LeRoy Ellinwood. “They said, 'Do something for Old Town,'” Hughes recalled. “And they began to educate me on its history.”
In later years, after the revitalization effort that resulted in a more vibrant commercial area and greatly increased property values, “Luther was so happy about what we did that he gave us $90,000 to buy this building [for the History Center].”
Over time, Hughes himself moved to the Westside - despite concerns for his safety from highbrow people he had known - and ran a computer communications business for 23 years in Old Colorado City.
Regarding his Westside upgrade efforts Hughes thanked numerous people he'd worked with, including Ed Schoch, Norm Clark, Bob Speer, Bob Traer, Lucille Cunningham, Tim Scanlon and former Mayor Bob Isaac.
He also thanked his family, noting that “they're all here” in the audience but pointing out the absence of his wife Patsy, who died in 2011 after 57 years of marriage.
Near the end of the presentation event, after listening to the story of Old Colorado City's turnaround, Mayor Bach got an appreciative laugh from Hughes, as well as the audience, when he asked the 85-year-old, “What are you doing for the next couple of years?”
Westside Pioneer article