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Durango shows up in force for Ed Zink memorial

Hundreds pack into Community Concert Hall to pay tribute
Jeff Huber, First United Methodist Church pastor, led the memorial service for Ed Zink on Monday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College. Zink co-founded the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, owned Mountain Bike Specialists on Main Avenue in Durango and was a hay farmer in the Animas Valley. He died Friday from complications of a heart attack.

If you want Ed Zink’s legacy of unwavering community service to continue, live it.

That was the message to hundreds of people who attended a memorial service for the Durango native Monday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

Zink, a pillar of the community with a seemingly endless list of contributions, died Oct. 11 at age 71 from complications of a heart attack.

The Zink family’s history in Southwest Colorado dates to the early 1900s, when Ed Zink’s grandfather, John, moved his family to the Animas Valley north of Durango in 1910.

Ed Zink was born Nov. 13, 1947. He was the only one of his five siblings never to move away from his family’s property, the Waterfall Ranch, and took on much of the responsibly of running it in the late 1980s. He also ran Waterfall Outfitters, an elk hunting operation, for years.

Ed Zink also helped found the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic; was the owner of Mountain Bike Specialists in downtown Durango; led efforts to bring the World Mountain Bike Championships to Durango in 1990; was integral in legislation to protect Hermosa Creek; and was part of countless community groups and organizations.

He was also part of the founding of Trails 2000, San Juan Mountains Association and Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency.

At the memorial service, all agreed there’s just no way to sum up all Zink has done for the community.

“My dad was involved in so many things in this community,” Kristi Zink said. “It will be sometime before we understand the scope … of the holes he left.”

Standing-room only at a memorial service for Ed Zink on Monday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

All of the Community Concert Hall’s 600 seats were taken. Hundreds more filled in every space in aisles or stairways.

“You can tell by looking around about his impact on the community,” said Jeff Huber, First United Methodist Church pastor, who commented that Zink’s death has felt sudden and like a shock. “He seemed to have a lot of life ahead of him.”

Ed Zink’s wife, Patti, said thousands of people have sent their thoughts and prayers to the family.

“I’m grateful that God gave me Ed,” she said. “I’m heartbroken I didn’t get as much time as I wanted with Ed.”

Members of the Bar D Wranglers sang during Ed Zink’s memorial service Monday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.
Family members of Ed Zink comfort each other during a memorial service Monday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

John Glover with Mountain Bike Specialists said all of Ed Zink’s community service took him away from his family. But it was something he was passionate about.

“I want to thank his family for sharing him,” Glover said. “Ed knew life is a journey, and he enjoyed everyone he met along the way. … His mission on Earth wasn’t finished.”

Gaige Sippy, director of the Iron Horse, said Ed Zink always kept benefits to the community at the forefront when planning the annual bike race where cyclists try to get to Silverton before the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

“He never dreamed it would turn into what it’s turned into,” Sippy said. “He’d be proud to know this community was here today. … It’s been a hell of a ride.”

The stage for Ed Zink’s memorial service was decorated with items that played a prominent role in his life.

Ron Corkish, president of La Plata County Search and Rescue, said Ed Zink, who volunteered for the team, was always willing to help in search missions, no matter the day or hour.

“Over the years, I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve called (Ed),” Corkish said. “All the years and countless hours … without hesitation, regret or frustration.”

Ed Zink’s son, Tim, said people in the community have asked if there’s anything they can do for the family in their time of grief. He said “yes.”

“Keep Ed Zink’s legacy of serving the greater good alive,” he said.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

Sep 26, 2021
Ed Zink – bicyclist, rancher and Durango native – dies at 71
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