Aspen Hall of Fame 2010 selects Bergmans, Shellman
ASPEN – Carl and Katie Bergman took a big chance as a young couple in 1963 when they gave up promising careers in the Midwest and moved to Aspen to satisfy their urge to ski.
All they really wanted was to do was fit into a mountain community, but they gave back as much as they gained. Now they’re being honored for everything they did over 47 years to help add to the community feel of Aspen.
The Bergmans, along with former Pitkin County commissioner and activist extraordinaire Dwight Shellman are the 2010 inductees into the Aspen Hall of Fame. They will be honored at a banquet Saturday, Jan. 23, at Aspen’s Hotel Jerome.
The Aspen Hall of Fame was created in the winter of 1986-87 to honor Aspen residents who made significant contributions to the development of skiing, the town, or both. Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke, Fritz Benedict and DRC Brown are among past honorees.
The selection of such a divergent set of inductees for 2010 represents one of the qualities that makes Aspen such a cool place. The routes they took to the Hall are worlds apart, yet the Bergmans and Shellman just did what they thought best to make Aspen a stronger community.
The Bergmans created a bedrock of consistency in a town where change is constant. Carl, trained as a pharmacist, got a job at Matthews Drug in 1963. The Bergmans seized the opportunity to buy it two years later, changing the name to Carl’s Pharmacy. They bought a lot across Main Street and built the Miners’ Building in 1976. They continue to operate both stores.
“You can’t just live a normal life. You have to stick your neck out and take risks,” Katie Bergman said.
She and her husband always intended to be longtime retailers. Nurturing successful businesses then selling for a fat profit was never their interest.
“We were here to stay from the git-go,” she said.
They raised their two children in Aspen, and they built a strong family atmosphere with many of their employees over the years. The two stores employ about 65 workers. Some of them have been with the Bergmans for up to 30 years.
“It’s like a family business,” Katie Bergman said.
Aspen Hall of Fame President Sue Helm said the Bergmans were selected for providing a solid foundation for the town. Their efforts to honor Aspen’s history were also recognized.
Katie said her husband has always loved history. His steam-powered calliope has been in just about every Aspen parade since 1976. As a president of the Aspen Historical Society, Carl saw the need to increase the exposure to Aspen’s mining and ranching history. He and Aspenites Rick Newton and Graeme Means “wore down” the Aspen City Council in a lobbying effort to get the city to acquire land for a museum. The Holden Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum features an old saw mill, stamp mill and numerous other historic pieces of mining and ranching equipment.
Shellman made his mark with preservation of a different kind. He was a father of Pitkin County’s strong growth control efforts after he won election as a commissioner in 1972. He risked insults and even injury to decrease the zoning of rural lands in the county and implement a system that regulated the pace of development.
Shellman, along with colleagues Joe Edwards and, later, Michael Kinsley, were visionaries who established the Aspen area’s bus system and affordable housing program. Shellman also helped craft a growth-control system that extracted public benefits from developers of private lands.
Helm acknowledged Shellman’s selection for the Hall of Fame might be viewed as controversial by some local residents, but it is defensible because of the legacy of his actions.
“Even if one may not agree with the decisions made in the ’70s, no one can deny that Dwight played a major role in shaping the Pitkin County of today,” Helm said.
The Hall of Fame banquet will be at 6 p.m. on Jan. 23. Invitations will be sent, but people interested in attending can also attend for $100. Payment must be made by Jan. 15. An RSVP is available at the Hall’s website at http://www.aspenhalloffame.org/. Look for the link on the right for the Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction 2010.
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A management plan for the Marolt Open Space guides the city to largely leave it alone, although a feasibility study will be done for a potential bike park on the south side of the property.