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Focusing on Adults 50+ in Mesa, Delta, Montrose and Garfield Counties

Herb Bacon doesn’t bring home the bacon as much as he gives it away

Feb 29, 2012, noon
Local philanthropist Herb Bacon is none other than Mr. April from the Rotary Club Calendar of 2011, “Legends of Rotary: A Tribute to Sexy Old Guys.”

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Herb and his wife, Laura May, have given to our community for decades.

By Terri Benson

You can’t have lived in the Grand Valley for long without having heard about Herb Bacon, a long-time resident of the area. He’s been recognized by local and state groups for many accomplishments including his decades of service in the banking industry, his philanthropy, and the vast number of boards upon which he has served.

Bacon is a compulsive philanthropist. He’s given back, literally, since the day he arrived in 1953 to help run the new U.S. Bank of Grand Junction with his father and older brother.

Bacon was a newlywed and recent MBA from the University of Colorado in Boulder when he settled in the area, but it didn’t take any time at all before he was following the lead of his father and brother by giving whenever and whatever he could to help out. The family’s Methodist upbringing instilled a culture of taking care of those around you.

“In my family, if you were successful in your community, you gave back,” Bacon said. “It was that simple.”

The practice started back in Bird City, Kansas, with a population then and now of about 700, with the Bacon grandparents making sure the family understood generosity was not an option. It was mandatory.

Growing up during the Great Depression, Bacon had ample opportunity to observe the need and results of the tradition. It didn’t have to be much. He quickly realized that $1, $100 or $10,000 could be equally helpful, depending on the need. The family believed in hard work just as strongly, which was a good thing considering Bacon’s father opened a bank in 1929, which wasn’t a great time for the financial industry.

The local Bacon family bank would go through seven different mergers and name changes over the years, now carrying the Wells Fargo brand.

“I suggested they put the signs up with duct tape, but that didn’t go over really well,” Bacon said.

At 82, Bacon is retired now, with no regrets. He still keeps his ear to the ground and knows banks are going through a hard time.

“Herb Bacon has always been a mover and a shaker, working to get things done,” long-time friend Pat Gormley said. “He has the ability to get people to go along with him for the ride.”

Shortly after arriving in Grand Junction, Bacon served on the committee for Mesa College, now Colorado Mesa University. Back then, the school had 600 students, Houston Hall and two Quonset huts that housed the cafeteria, classes and offices. Now, the university boasts over 9,000 students.

In addition, several other charitable groups have benefited from Bacon’s generosity and hard work. He’s been on the St. Mary’s Hospital Board through several expansions and fundraisers, and they have a “Wilma Bacon Center.” Then there’s the Hilltop Foundation, which sports a “Bacon Campus.” He was one of the youngest presidents of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the World Methodist Council International Advisory Board and has traveled to Africa on missions to help fight the AIDS epidemic. He was one of the founding members of the local United Way. Add in the Mesa Land Trust, the Art Center, Suicide Prevention, Partners, and the Western Colorado Community Foundation, and you’ve covered only a small fraction of his beneficiaries, both personally and through the Bacon Family Foundation. Bird City, Kansas, also sports a library and the largest threshing museum in the country, thanks to the family foundation.

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