Hines, `a gentleman,’ dead at 54
Longtime local veterinarian Tom Hines died July 1 after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 54 years old.A memorial service is planned for Friday, according to friends and family. The service will begin at 11 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Aspen, then move to a graveside ceremony at noon. Hines’ longtime Elks Lodge 224 associates will perform a special graveside service.The memorial will then reconvene at the Elks Lodge clubroom in the Elks building, at the corner of Galena Street and Hyman Avenue, at 1 p.m.A number of longtime local residents, who have known and worked with Hines over the years, recalled a man who was well liked by nearly everyone he met and was dedicated to the work he did for the community.Hines came to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1969 from the Midwest. He operated the Shadow Mountain Lodge and became president of the newly created Aspen Chamber of Commerce. He had started veterinary school before coming out West, and was convinced by friends to enroll in Colorado State University classes and get his degree, graduating in 1976.He returned to Aspen and set up practice at the Aspen Animal Hospital. Before long, he became involved again in the local business organization, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association.Don Sheeley, a local businessman who knew Hines well, remembered that Hines “was on eight million committees” during his time with ACRA. He was chair of the Food & Wine Classic for 13 years, before being hired as president in the early 1990s.It was during Hines’ tenure as president of ACRA, from 1992 to late 1994, that the organization lifted itself out of crippling debt.When he took office, the chamber was saddled with at least $153,000 in bills, had exhausted a $100,000 line of credit at a local bank, and had only about $550 in its bank account. Hines revamped the way ACRA did business, sold off its reservations arm to the Aspen Skiing Co., and tightened its spending procedures.The new direction created some lean marketing budgets, but helped snap the chamber out of its dire financial condition. In just over two years, the chamber went from being $253,000 in the red – with more bills rolling in – to being about $228,000 in the black, according to ACRA records.”He was a damned good man – world class. Tom was one of those guys who could get along with anybody,” Sheeley said. “A word to describe him – and it’s kind of rare now – was, gentleman.”Hines also became deeply involved in the Elks Lodge in Aspen, serving on committees, being named a trustee, and ultimately serving as head trustee for a year.”He was one of the people that changed the lodge, and made it financially secure forever,” said fellow lodge member Tony Merkel.He said Hines was instrumental in arranging for the renovation of the building that, among other things, moved the lodge clubroom from its ground floor location to the third floor in the corner looking out at Aspen Mountain. And the renovation opened up the ground floor spaces for rent to the Hard Rock Cafe and high-end retail outlets, which are credited with putting the lodge on sound financial footing.Merkel said Hines was “hard working and very meticulous about everything that he did. The events that he ran, every detail was covered,” ranging from Mother’s Day celebrations to special parties and weddings.After being diagnosed with cancer, Hines continued to serve as long as he could as one of the Aspen Skiing Co.’s “Tuckbusters,” a crew of skiing monitors whose job it is to keep expert skiers and boarders from getting out of control and going too fast on the local mountains.”He worked as long as he could, before he got too weak to do it anymore,” said Merkel.Aspen Mayor Rachel Richards, who has known and worked with Hines for the past decade in her work as a City Council member, recalled: “He was very committed to the small businesses, the restaurants and mom-and-pop stores of the town. He was always in it to the Nth degree … he gave his all to make it success for the business … the people who own the businesses. I found he was always a very genuine and caring person.”Karen Hines said a scholarship fund is being set up by the Elks Club in Hines’ name, and requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to that fund. Details about the fund will be released later in the week.
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