Verne and Nancy Lundquist laugh Sunday before accepting the Yampa Valley Community Foundation’s individual Philanthropist of the Year award.

Photo by Scott Franz

Verne and Nancy Lundquist laugh Sunday before accepting the Yampa Valley Community Foundation’s individual Philanthropist of the Year award.

Verne and Nancy Lundquist named Philanthropists of the Year

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Jake Barker, left, received the Yampa Valley Community Foundation’s Youth Philanthropist of the Year honor Sunday night. He was introduced by John Kerst, chairman of the Community Foundation’s board of directors.

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Native Excavating owners Ed and June MacArthur accept the Business Philanthropist honor Sunday night. The MacArthurs have used their company to benefit several area projects and non-profits.

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Nancy Lundquist gives a speech Sunday while she and her husband, Verne, accept the Yampa Valley Community Foundation's Individual Philanthropist of the Year award.

— Nancy Lundquist told the leaders of several area nonprofits Sunday night that it has been easy for her and her husband to give so much time and money to worthy causes in the Yampa Valley.

“It’s amazing how many wonderful, wonderful places there are in Steamboat to give your time and your funds and your love,” she told the crowd gathered in the Larson’s Barn off Colorado Highway 131.

Nancy and Verne Lundquist were honored there Sunday night as the Yampa Valley Community Foundation’s Philanthropists of the Year. Native Excavating owners Ed and June MacArthur accepted the Business Philanthropist honor, and Steamboat Springs High School graduate Jake Barker was named the Youth Philanthropist.

“The Lundquists believe philanthropy can take many forms, giving back to the community in whatever way you can,” said John Kerst, chairman of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation’s board of directors.

And the Lundquists’ philanthropic resume is impressive.

With Verne’s award-winning voice and Nancy’s passion, the couple has spent more than two decades aiding local nonprofits.

Verne said he vividly remembers what spurred him and his wife to become so involved in the community.

“The real catalyst for us was the first year of Strings in the Mountains,” he said as he recalled Strings Music Festival’s inaugural concert he and Nancy attended in 1988 on the deck of the Gallery Restaurant at the old Storm Meadows Athletic Club.

Tickets for the string quartet were $2.50 a piece, and it was attended by 150 people.

“That’s when we realized there are some amazing people here, and it was our due to get involved and to get to know them,” Verne said. “What we found is there is a community of people here who are the best in the world.”

Verne has been an active board member for Strings Music Festival, and Nancy was a member of organization’s first volunteer guild.

Since that first Strings concert, the couple has volunteered and donated their money to several area nonprofits and organizations including Routt County United Way, the Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, the Routt County Humane Society and the Yampa River Botanic Park.

Verne told the crowd his wife deserves much of the credit for their efforts.

“She’s the kindest person I’ve ever known, and part of our philanthropic effort here in Steamboat is because she will not say no,” he said.

Like the Lundquists, the recipients of this year’s Business Philanthropist honor have spent decades giving back to the community.

When Steamboat’s Hot Air Balloon Rodeo needed a place to continue to launch from, the couple opened up their land near Bald Eagle Lake to the event. The lake also hosts the Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports program’s water skiing program that benefits wounded veterans and people with disabilities.

“As their (construction) company was growing, they also helped the Steamboat community grow,” Kerst said when he introduced the couple to the audience. “Ed and June have donated time, labor, machinery and financial support to many projects and nonprofits.”

The youngest honoree of the night already has left a large impression on his community.

Barker, an 18-year-old Nordic combined skier, bassoonist, actor and artist, has served as a Partners in Routt County mentor for an at-risk elementary school student. Together, they have bonded through biking, snowboarding and trips to Bud Werner Memorial Library.

“I was a member of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, and I was always surrounded by kids who I thought were the coolest people in the world,” Barker said. “I realize how important they were in developing my character, so this is my way of giving back.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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