Museum of Northwest Colorado: Hugh Jones was a strong business leader
It is a well-known adage that a small business owner is frequently “owned” by the business, not the other way around. Young Hugh Jones learned that lesson early on, as he watched his father Lee Jones engage in numerous business endeavors in the county. Somehow seeing his father put effort into his various enterprises did not deter Hugh from carrying on in his father’s footsteps. Hugh, born in 1917 in Craig, grew up in his parents’ home at 663 Taylor St. After attending Craig High School, Hugh spent three years at the University of Colorado. In 1938, he met and married Craig high school teacher Margaret Tagert, who had grown up in Meeker.
Hugh then joined his father in the oil distribution business, which served not only Moffat and Routt counties, but stretched up into the Little Snake River area also. Their Phillips 66 petroleum business was located just south of the railroad tracks on South Ranney Street before they moved it to the corner Victory Way and Green Street. The business not only carried oil products but other related products necessary to the automotive, farming and trucking industries.
Not content with being “just” a businessman, Hugh threw himself wholeheartedly into the local community civic and fraternal organizations. Hugh’s father, Lee, had served at one time as town marshal and later as undersheriff. Hugh, following with pride in his father’s civic legacy, served as mayor of Craig from 1956 to 1963. His time in office was marked by tremendous improvements in the town’s infrastructures including street paving, enlarged water systems, and an expanded and consolidated law enforcement force.
Hugh also served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, was a member of the Lion’s Club, the Yampa Lodge and other local fraternal groups. His schedule was so full that Chet Klock, the cartoonist who created the “Familiar Faces” for the Craig Empire-Courier, joked that even Hugh’s wife Margaret, had to schedule appointment time to get a chance to see her husband.
The post war period during the 1950s and 60s saw a surge of commitment to the well-being of the community by Craig business people. Newcomers to town and those who had a generational history of residence in the region, both were willing to play their part to help the town thrive.
That attitude among local business owners still prevails today. Most of Craig’s service organizations are heavily invested in by those who are involved in the area’s business community. That sense of commitment to the general welfare of Moffat County spans demographics in terms of length of time lived here and age.
To learn more about Northwest Colorado’s history visit the Museum of Northwest Colorado at 590 Yampa Avenue 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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