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Jim Golden played an ‘electrifying’ role in building Steamboat

Steamboat's last mayor dies at 89

Jim Golden
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— Jim Golden, who served as Steamboat Springs’ last mayor from 1972 to 1974 and displayed a remarkable appetite for public service during his 33-year career as general manager of Yampa Valley Electric Association, died Aug. 1 in Las Vegas. He would have turned 90 years old in November.

An Oklahoma native, Golden came to Steamboat from Pueblo in 1961 during a time the community was struggling. The El Rancho was the only restaurant open 12 months of the year, and the Harbor Hotel was closed, he recalled in a 1994 newspaper article in the Steamboat Pilot announcing his retirement.

“Jim was a wonderful man who gave everything he could to the community and played as hard as he worked,” longtime YVEA Cathy Uttech said Aug. 8. “He loved to dance, and he loved his poker games. But he never missed a meeting, and he was always prepared, thorough and thoughtful.”

Golden took YVEA from 4,000 customers and less than $1 million in annual revenues to 18,500 meters and annual revenues of $26 million.

He was a founding member of the Steamboat Springs Rotary Club and Toastmasters and served as president of both organizations. With the late Del Scott, Golden helped found the Routt County Foundation for Senior Citizens, which established three housing projects.

Paula Cooper, former city councilwoman and longtime member of Rotary, recalled that Golden had a great singing voice and led the club in song. He favored Golden oldies (what else?) from the 1930s and 1940s.

He also played a role in building Bristol Hall on the Colorado Mountain College campus. He was on the board of United Bank and served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Routt County Housing Authority and president of the Colorado Farm Power Council.

His daughter, Gina Golden Toothaker, program director at Mind Springs Health, recalls that when her mother — Jim’s first wife, Lucille — was seriously ill, he made her and her two brothers their supper and rose in the morning in time to pack their school lunches.

Somehow, Golden found the time and energy to be chairman of Club 20, serve on the Colorado Rural Development Commission and the Colorado Department of Highways Glenwood Canyon Committee. The list goes on.

Uttech said that, during his tenure as mayor, Golden realized the city of Steamboat Springs had grown to the extent that being mayor was not a part-time job. One of his proudest achievements, she said, was transitioning city government to a system that called for a city council president working in tandem with a professional city manager.

Uttech, who worked for Golden 15 years and rose to the role of assistant general manager, said Golden projected qualities of confidence and capability.

“Whatever organization he belonged to, it wasn’t going to take long for him to become leader of the pack,” she said. “But that was just his MO. At the regional, state and national level, people looked up to him and trusted his judgment.”

Lucille Golden died in 1990. Golden and his second wife, Ruth, moved to Las Vegas upon his retirement, but they frequently returned to Steamboat for the milder summers.

Gina Golden Toothaker observed that her father enjoyed two lengthy marriages. He was married to Lucille for 45 years and celebrated 25 years with Ruth in October 2015. His sons, Michael D. Golden and Tony B. Golden, also survive him.

Gina said her father quit playing golf eight to 10 years ago after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

“He was still active, still driving and doing grocery shopping, until two months ago,” she said.

Former Steamboat Pilot publisher Chuck Leckenby thought highly of Golden.

“Any community takes doers and shakers,” he wrote in 1986.

Jim Golden was a “doer and a shaker” who made a lasting difference in Steamboat Springs.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


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