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Families of Vail

emily tamberino

The Vail Valley has an inimitable pull for so many people. Many are drawn to the wild beauty the never-ending backyard of National Forest terrain and a sense of adventure. But amenities such as outstanding medical care and small-town community values are just as important. For these multi-generational families there's no place in the world they'd rather live.

The Cogswells

cogswellsWhat brought John and Patti Cogswell to Vail in 1976 are the same things that have kept them here since — skiing fishing hunting and a simple and pure love of the mountains. “Nobody in the world has the quality of life we do” explains John.

In their early days in the Valley theCogswells didn't have their parents or relatives nearby. Patti describes “Our friends were our family and our doctors were our friends and our family. Everyone took care of each other.”

Once they had their children Parke and Slade the Cogswells made quite a few trips to the hospital over the years. Whether it was a broken collarbone a car accident or stitches Slade recalls “You'd walk in and there would be Dr. Bevan Dr. Petrie someone you knew and they'd say 'Cogswell's here again! He's all right he can walk it off. He's a hockey player!'”

Slade describes the hospital as warm welcoming and homey. He calls his doctors mentors and heroes. His wife Christina who the family affectionately refers to as an “import” has embraced Vail and the intimacy of a small town where you carry your doctor's cell phone number.

The Cogswells — including the youngest generation Nash — are guided by a holistic approach to health and wellness. John and Slade ski about 50 days/year and Nash who is only 2 ½ years old already has two ski seasons under his belt. Slade will often call the Cogswell Gallery or Squash Blossom both family-owned businesses in Vail Village looking for his mom only to find out she's on the hill taking some turns.

Slade says “I love how in this Valley you hang your skis up and pull out your bike get the boat out and go fishing grab a friend and go hiking. You don't have to try to be active.” Slade traveled all over the world and worked in many different places before returning to Vail and starting his family here. Patti explains “Your children leave which is really healthy and you can hardly get an email or phone call from them. Then come to find out they live two miles away from you!

”The Cogswells' favorite family days include a great meal and some type of outdoor activity — skiing snowshoeing hiking. Patti says “It's very rewarding to realize that we all love the same things. There's nowhere we'd rather be.”

The Hanlons

hanlonsWhen Bill and Sally Hanlon recall their early days in Vail they remember a “spirit of enthusiasm.”

Bill explains “Everybody was a believer. You could see the mountain and if you skied it you knew something big was going to happen. Everyone from the beginning realized we had the finest ski mountain in the world.”

The Hanlons skied every day. At night they ran the New Gnu. Originally planned to be a supper club it became a standing-room-only raucous rock 'n roll night club.

In 1968 Bill remembers many of the local women becoming pregnant. The women would go see Dr. Steinberg and he would hand them a piece of paper with confirmation of the pregnancy as well as a list of doctors in Glenwood Springs or Denver — Steinberg was clear that the small clinic in Vail was not equipped to handle deliveries!

Meg and Joe Hanlon were born in Denver but grew up 200 yards from Bridge Street in Vail Village. The Hanlons' friends couldn't understand then why they chose to live “so far away.”

Bill recalls the hospital starting out in a very small building and growing as demands increased. He explains “As we needed things people got involved in benefits to raise money and the hospital was usually the recipient. There was a nucleus of people who knew how to get things done and didn't ask for credits.”

Sally and Bill were two such people — they helped start the Vail Valley Medical Center Family Dinner Dance in 1985. Today the Dinner Dance is the hospital's biggest fundraiser and still the only black-tie event in the Valley for all ages and generations.

The Hanlons believe that healthy living is defined by their ability to enjoy their environment. Bill rides his bike every day. They have skiers who range in age from 3 to 79.

Meg says “We're lucky the community has been able to build a hospital that's larger and more complex than the demographics suggest and we don't always realize what a benefit that is.”

Bill adds that the caliber of the hospital makes it possible to attract leaders in the medical field — that and the fact that as he puts it “There's no place better than Vail CO.”

The Browns

Brown FamilyIn 1963 when Vi and Byron Brown moved from Denver to Vail with their two sons Mike and Todd and a daughter Cindy on the way the town was comprised of one dirt (usually snow-covered) road. Byron had told Vi “There are 52 weekends in the year and we're spending 54 in the mountains. Why not move up?” Vi agreed. “We always dreamt about the Wild West and this was our chance to go experience it” says Vi.

They spent their early days driving around to the old mines exploring the backcountry and skiing of course. All three children became ski racers.

Prior to the establishment of the Vail Clinic now Vail Valley Medical Center Byron recalls getting Doc Stanley out of the Gilman mines for any medical problems they encountered. When Dr. Steinberg arrived in Vail and the clinic was opened the Browns “loved him from the start.” Vi adds “We thought Dr. Steinberg was a miracle man.” She recalls the Vail Clinic was only one room so the “waiting area” was comprised of benches on packed-out snow just outside the door.

When the clinic moved to W. Meadow Drive the building was shared by the school which was previously outgrowing its quarters in the fire station. Cindy recalls the dreaded moment when the phone would ring in her 3rd grade classroom above the clinic calling any students who didn't have their current shots to walk downstairs and get their vaccination. “Everybody hated when that phone rang” she says. Vi called it “one-stop shopping.”

Vi was one of the women who spearheaded the Rummage Sale to raise funds for the school/hospital. The rummage was stored on the second floor of the hospital in a vacant room next to the school and the sale was hosted in what is now the hospital's parking lot.

“It came down to the community to make things happen” says Mike. “People who were not directly involved in building the hospital didn't have a chip in the game still helped to make it happen. Knowing where we started and to see what we have now creates a sense of pride and a sense of relief." Vi adds “Having a medical center gave us a feeling of community and that we were finally a full-fledged town.”