‘One of the little people in town’
VAIL – Of all of the projects Vail Valley Citizen of the Year Diana Donovan has worked on, her most memorable are some of her first political endeavors in the valley – fighting for environmental causes.In the early days of Vail, she said, she helped keep water in the Gore Creek that may have been diverted to Denver, and she worked to prevent Interstate 70 from going over Red Buffalo Pass, an area that now includes trails and a campground.”I just wanted the right decision to be made for Vail so it continues to be a wonderful place,” Donovan said.The Vail Valley Foundation has chosen the former Vail councilwoman as Vail Valley Citizen of the Year, with emphasis on her work in creating the Vail Memorial Park.”It doesn’t seem real to me, because I consider myself one of the little people in town,” Donovan said. “I just work for a living and do what I think is right.”‘I always respected her opinion’
Donovan served as a councilwoman from 1999 until last month, when she finished fifth in a race for four spots. But her involvement in Vail’s government began in 1971, when she worked on creating a town sign code.She was appointed to the Design Review Board, which reviews developments’ architecture, in the early ’80s and shortly thereafter was appointed to the Planning and Environmental Commission, which reviews projects’ adherence to building codes, on which she served for 14 years.She was elected to council in 1999 and re-elected to a four-year term in 2001.Helping with the creation of Vail Memorial Park and Donovan Pavilion – which is named after her husband, John – are two more memorable achievements, she said.”Diana has been an integral part of this community from its beginnings,” said Vail Valley Foundation President Ceil Folz. “She has made significant contributions to the entire Vail Valley on a number of fronts and she is truly deserving of this honor.”Mayor Rod Slifer cited Donovan’s 20 years of combined service on the Town Council and the planning commission.”Very, very few people have done that,” he said. “That in itself is quite a contribution. “She’s opinionated and very passionate about what she believes and how she thinks the town should do things,” he added. :She and I didn’t always agree but I always respected her opinion.”Former Vail Valley citizens of the year include President Gerald Ford and Vail founder Pete Seibert.
A sense of reliefDonovan came to Vail in 1965, when she worked at the Night Latch, a dormitory where the Mountain Haus now stands.Two years later, she married John Donovan. The Donovans operated Donovan’s Copper Bar on Bridge Street from 1966 until 1982. John Donovan was a Vail councilman from 1966 until 1980.As she continued her involvement in town government she raised a family. Her children, ages 35, 34, and 27, have returned to the valley after attending college. She also has three grandchildren.After the Copper Bar closed, the family started Vail Honeywagon, a trash removal service. A son now operates the business.She was surprised, the day after her defeat in this November’s election, at how relieved she was. “I didn’t have that huge level of responsibility that I didn’t realize I’d chosen to accept,” she said.Donovan calls herself a private person, and said she’s going back to that private life. Now that she has some free time, she’s enjoying making Christmas decorations, and she will sewing and gardening, she said.
She’ll still voice her opinion on town issues, but won’t be officially going back into any government role, she said. And the private person who ended up taking public roles in Vail is still trying to fathom an honor like citizen of the year. “It really is neat,” she said.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado