Publisher, Rancher, Conservationist and Wilderness Preservationist, 10th Mountain Division member, Ski Instructor.
Merrill G. Hastings Jr. passed away at his ranch in McCoy on April 30, 2008. He was 85.
Hastings first came to Colorado in 1942 as a 10th Mountain Division member. He returned in 1947 as an avid skier, moved to and lived in Vail with his family during the early years from 1962 to 1973, opting to take his leave in 1973 in order to "keep his horses." He and Priscilla started the Sunnyvail Cattle Ranch in McCoy, where she raised prized angus cattle, they rode the mountainsides with friends and family, and Hastings continued his publishing and activist efforts.
He was born May 12, 1922, in Denham, Mass. During WWII, he served in the Air Force, then transferred to the Army's 10th Mountain Division at Camp Hale, and he eventually became a medic with the American Field Service in support of the British 8th Army Division in the European sector. He returned to Colorado after the war where he began his career as an "organizational force" in the ski industry. He helped build Arapahoe Ski Basin, directed Berthoud Pass Ski School in 1947, began early certification efforts for ski instructors and founded the national ski industry trade show effort. He married Priscilla Brayton of Fall River, Mass., in 1948 and later that year, they published the first issue of Rocky Mountain Skiing, which eventually developed into the nationally recognized Skiing magazine. Ten years later, Hastings published the first issue of Winter Sports, followed by the launch of Colorado Rocky Mountain West magazine in 1965. The decade of the '60s found Hastings actively involved with coverage of the Olympics around the world while also being appointed by Gov. Love as Olympic Coordinator for the state of Colorado. His committee's efforts eventually led to the state's successful bid for the XII Winter Olympic Games of 1976 (later defeated by Colorado taxpayers).
In 1973 Hastings launched Colorado Business magazine while also beginning a three-decade career of leadership for the wilderness development and protection initiatives. He was known for not shying away from a good fight with misinformed or misdirected bureaucrats. In 1974, he was the co-founder of the Colorado Trail in cooperation with the United States Forest Service. In 1986, Hastings founded Cope and Coping magazines for cancer specialists and survivors, respectively, which eventually led to the founding of National Cancer Survivors Day in 1987 and more recently the founding of International Cancer Survivors Day.
Those who knew Hastings enjoyed his ever-inquiring mind, his feistiness and friendship as he lived his life with great passion, integrity and commitment, while helping people around him, his community, the wilderness and wildlife. He was an "engaging and persuasive" man who loved Colorado, lived life to its fullest and pursued interests and causes close to his heart, while retaining a very private personal life.
Hastings shared his last years with his companion and recent wife, Joanne, and is survived by his daughter Deborah of Durango and his son Bill of Lakewood. He was preceded in death by his beloved Priscilla, his wife of 57 years, and a second son, Peter. No services are scheduled by the family. Instead, his immediate family will scatter his ashes over the meadows of King Mountain, one of his many mountainside "homes" away from home. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Shaw Regional Cancer Center, P.O. Box 1529, Vail, CO, #81658.