Museum of Northwest Colorado: Ed Harding — state representative, volunteer and business man
Ambitious and energetic, young Ed Harding moved from Utah to Craig in 1942 to take a position as a sales representative for the C.D. Smith Drug Company of Grand Junction. He and his wife Lurean settled into small town life, after being married two years prior in Salt Lake City. Ed was drafted into the U.S. Army the following year, and was stationed in Louisville, Kentucky until his discharge in 1946.
Upon his return to Craig, Ed took up his post again with the C.D. Smith Drug Company until he established the C & H Beer distributorship in 1947, which served Northwest Colorado and eastern Utah. Along with being the area distributor for Coors beer, Ed also worked as a distributor for the oil industry. He later served as president of the Colorado beer Distributors Association.
An outspoken Democrat and thoroughly dedicated to his adopted community, Harding ran for Colorado State Representative and served four terms, beginning in 1951. He represented Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, Jackson and Grand counties for 10 years. From a region that leaned heavily towards Republican sentiment, it speaks for Ed’s appeal to the area voters that he would serve four terms as their state representative. When nationally known cartoonist, Chet Klock came to Craig in 1956 to do a six month series on local businessmen, it would have been difficult for him to ignore such a popular person as Ed.
Ed Harding was serving his second term as representative when Klock wrote his columns for the Craig Empire-Courier. Klock not only noted Ed’s service as state representative, but also noted that the jovial beer distributor was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Lions Club, the Elks Club and the Craig Latter-Day Saints Church. With his outgoing personality and popularity, Ed was a natural leader and one could easily see Ed serving today in one of the many service organizations that help our community.
A father of four children, Ed was heavily invested in the well-being of the community. Throwing himself whole-heartedly into various organizations, Harding would sometimes point out his concern that the younger generation was not stepping up to the plate in that area. Fortunately Ed’s concerns have been proven wrong today, as new waves of volunteers continue to commit hours of dedicated work to the many entities that benefit our local residents and affect our community with their efforts.
Ed died suddenly in 1979 at age 60, but he left a lasting impression on the community he served through his active involvement on many levels. To learn more about northwest Colorado’s history and the business people that have helped make it what it is today, visit the Museum of Northwest Colorado at 590 Yampa Ave. in downtown Craig. The museum is open Monday through Saturday and as always, admission is free.
Mary Pat Dunn is the registrar at the Museum of Northwest Colorado.
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