AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Thomas J. Gargan, Sr., 1920-1996



During this past year we lost a dear friend and mentor, Thomas J. Gargan, Sr. He was born in Golden, Colorado, attended Golden High School, Notre Dame University and Regis College and received his Master’s degree in business administration from the University of Denver. He served in World War II for five years. He was a senior account executive and held other management positions during his 27-year tenure at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Colorado. He retired in 1982, only to start Gargan and Associates, his own employee benefits firm.

Thomas leaves behind a long list of accomplishments. In 1938, he worked for a camp for handicapped children, now located near Georgetown. He and his wife Tina helped pioneer the first experimental Easter Seals handicap camp for crippled children in Colorado’s mountains. He was always a supporter of camp Santa Maria and camp St. Malo, which offered mountaineering experience to underprivileged children. He spent 33 years in the Boy Scouts organization in Colorado, most programs involving Colorado’s wonderful outdoors. In 1972 he was awarded the St. George Emblem, the highest adult Catholic Scouting Award from the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, and in 1973, was the Archdiocese chairman of the scouting committee. He was a member of the executive board of the Denver Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America since 1974. He also received the Silver Beaver and Bronze Pelican awards from the Denver Area Council of Boy Scouts.

He was appointed by the Mayor of Denver to the Urban Renewal Board of Commissions and was directly involved in the revitalization of lower downtown Denver preserving historic landmarks, creating the Tabor center and the combined campuses in Auraria for the University of Colorado at Denver and Metropolitan State College. This commission laid the groundwork for subsequent redevelopment of lower downtown including Coor’s field. He succeeded in preserving the Golden High School building (now the home office of the American Alpine Club) as a historic building.

He was a charter member of the St. Patrick Day Parade which is now the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country. He reactivated the local chapter of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians. He also founded and was chairman of the new chapter of the Irish Cultural Institute of Colorado. He was elected Man of the Year by the University of Notre Dame alumni. He received the Service to Mankind Award by the Denver Sertoma Club. He was chairman of the board of the Lupus Foundation of Colorado and with his son, Tom, initiated the Annual Benefit program. He was Chairman emeritus of the Serra Trust fund for vocations.

Thomas’s concept of “success” came from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Thomas J. Gargan, M.D.