The 26th group of Aspen Hall of Fame inductees will be honored tonight for their significant and lasting impact on the community.
The Hall of Fame board of directors voted this year to induct Pat Finely Fallin, Joe Edwards, Jr. and Michael Kinsley, who among their many accomplishments, all served in some capacity of elected office during their long tenure in the Aspen community.
The board received 21 nominations from area residents, and the 19-member board deliberated this past fall before voting on 2013’s inductees.
“All of our inductees this year were nominated by several people, so their strength and breadth of their impact on the community was apparent and obvious to the board,” said Kathryn Koch, board president.
Fallin, Kinsley and Edwards will be honored at tonight’s sold-out induction and banquet ceremony at the Hotel Jerome. Locally-produced “this is your life” videos of each inductee will be shown in front of 160 people.
The Aspen Hall of Fame was established in 1986–87 to recognize and honor individuals who have had an impact on the Aspen and Snowmass communities, whether it be economically, physically, spiritually or intellectually. They also must have demonstrated inspirational leadership and have made major contributions to cultural, sports or civic activities.
And while this year’s trio all have some political ties to the community, their contributions go well beyond that.
Fallin, the Oklahoma native who moved here with her husband and son in 1970, got involved in the community shortly after her arrival, joining the League of Women Voters. She was then elected as the chair of the Pitkin County Democratic Party, where she became immersed with Colorado politics and campaigns, according to the Aspen Hall of Fame’s biography of the inductees included in tonight’s event program.
She’s also served on numerous boards, including the Aspen Community School, Aspen School District, the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen Theatre in the Park, Aspen/Snowmass Council for the Arts, the Wheeler Opera House, Colorado Mountain College, Aspen Open Space, the Aspen Hall of Fame, and many other city advisory groups and ad-hoc committees that led to the creation of several amenities and assets the community enjoys today.
Fallin served on the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission and then was elected to City Council in the 1980s, when she was heavily involved in the city’s Sister Cities program.
When she moved to Basalt, she served as vice president and president of the library board there, where she helped pass by a large margin the bond election for the new 20,000-square-foot facility. She also served on that town’s open space and trails committee.
She now lives in California to be near her son and daughter, and her grandchildren.
Edwards, a Texas native, arrived in town in 1967 after graduating with a law degree the year prior. In 1968, he began his legal career working with several other notable attorneys here.
He might be best known as a progressive-thinking Pitkin County commissioner on land-use issues. But five years before being elected to office in 1972, Edwards filed a civil rights case against city of Aspen officials for harassing hippies, which were commonly referred to as the “hippie trials.”
An outgrowth of that was the formation of Citizens for Community Action, which defined the image and the character of Aspen and the upper Roaring Fork Valley. That included creating a city and county planning office, adopting a master land-use plan and establishing public transportation, among other elements.
In 1968, Edwards ran unsuccessfully for mayor, narrowly losing to Eve Homeyer. At around the same time, he filed a petition to establish the Aspen pedestrian malls, and later petitioned to halt planning by the city and county governments to host the 1976 Olympics.
As a county commissioner, he led the development of a countywide trails and bicycle master plan and was the leading advocate for open space, which led to the Hunter Creek Valley being established as wilderness area, as well as the purchase of the North Star Ranch.
He supported the countywide growth management plan, one of the first of its kind in the nation, which controlled the pace and location of development. Results of Edwards’ efforts made 40 years ago are evident in the character of present-day Aspen and the surrounding area, according to the Hall of Fame’s program and biography.
Kinsley, who also served as a county commissioner during Edwards’ term, came to Aspen in 1970 with a degree in political science from the University of Texas and having only skied once in his life.
Like many locals, he started out as a prep cook, a lodge-room cleaner, a dishwasher and a laundromat manager. Kinsley also was a biological researcher and eventually learned to ski.
In 1971, Kinsley became the director of the local environmental task force, helping to oppose ski areas at Haystack and Marble. He worked on the campaigns of commissioners Edwards and Dwight Shellman, and the mayoral campaign of Stacey Standley.
Kinsley served on the board of county commissioners during a controversial time when major decisions were being made about development, and his primary focus was the creation of the local affordable housing program.
In 1983, he joined the Rocky Mountain Institute, where he continues to work part-time and for 20 years helped communities around the country and abroad with sustainable economic development.
In the late 1980s, he began focusing on his landscape paintings depicting the Roaring Fork Valley and southeast Utah. His work is shown at several local venues, including the Toklat Gallery and the Red Brick Council for the Arts.
The inductees’ accomplishments and leadership go far beyond what is portrayed in their biographies assembled by the Aspen Hall of Fame, and will be laid out in further detail at tonight’s soiree, which takes up most of the nonprofit’s $40,000 annual budget.
“They have given in all aspects to the community,” Koch said.