Ed Quillen, R.I.P.: Colorado Central Magazine founder dies at 61


I met Ed Quillen via email in 2007 when he asked me if I’d be interested in writing a column about water issues for Colorado Central Magazine. I was jazzed that he would consider me as a freelancer. I had read his columns in The Denver Post for years and admired his analysis of current events and insight into Colorado’s history. It seems now that he never failed to make me laugh, often out loud, as I read his stuff.

I never asked him how he came to the decision to reach out to me, I always assumed that he had stumbled on Coyote Gulch while searching for water news on the Internet. I remember asking him in email, after I had told him that I’d love to be part of his magazine, “Is this a paying gig?”

Ed replied, “Colorado Central pays a nickel a word, often late.”


I finally met Ed in person at a Colorado Central potluck in October of 2010. I recognized him of course and said, “Hi, I’m John Orr.”

Ed stated, matter-of-factly, “The water guy.” That label meant more to me that he’ll ever know. As the Indian Summer afternoon wound down in the Quillen back yard I realized that most people there genuinely liked Ed and all were proud to be his friend. A few talked about what a pillar of the community he was.

At last year’s potluck I complimented him on his writing style and the use of humor to make a point. He told me, “I can’t sit down and tell you how I do it, it just comes.”

If there is a heaven I believe that Ed is probably rattling around in the mountains there driving an old Volkswagen bus just as he and Martha did in Colorado early in their marriage.

Adiós, Ed.

3 thoughts on “Ed Quillen, R.I.P.: Colorado Central Magazine founder dies at 61

  1. Sad news. When he was a Denver Post op-ed writer, he was the only voice from outside the J-school/Legislature/Metroplex world. And Colorado Central has been a constant pleasure.

  2. FWIW, Ed never liked that old VW beetle — it was cold and slow. Its virtues were that it was cheap to operate and easy to repair. And, for a two-wheel-drive vehicle, it was good in the snow.

    But Ed was always a pick-up guy, given his druthers. When his Blazer died a few years ago he looked for a Toyota Tacoma pick-up, but found they were too expensive, so settled for a Ford Ranger with a small crew cab and a canopy. He said it was the nicest vehicle he ever owned.

    I first met Ed at UNC (CSC at the time) in Greeley, where he was a 17-year-old freshman and the first (perhaps still the only) National Merit Scholar to attend what he called “Podunk on the Poudre.” We raised journalistic hell together on campus publications in those days of ’60s campus ferment, and stayed in touch ever since, via correspondence (significantly enabled by the Internet) and irregular visits, in spite of the 1200 miles between us.

    His family has lost it’s patriarch, his readers have lost a unique journalist, historian and philosopher, and I have lost a dear friend. We all, in our own way, were enriched by his presence and are poorer for his passing.

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