Woodland Park leaders mourn loss of community icon
Woodland Park has been besieged by an array of tragic accidents, such as the recent fatality that took the life of 15-year-old Kevin McDonald.
Last week local leaders also mourned another big loss: the death of Cal Elder, a community icon and the person who spearheaded the “City Above the Clouds” promotional tag line for Woodland Park and who saved the Catamount Ranch area from future development and helped preserve this spot as a prime outdoor haven for residents. In addition, Elder served on a bevy of local community groups and was a former Teller County commissioner. “Cal Elder was a gentleman, a gentle man, a man of great courage, patience, and compassion,” said City Manager David Buttery during last week’s council meeting, in announcing his recent death. Buttery described Elder as one of the premiere community figures for Woodland Park.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Councilman Terry Harrison, who described Elder as a vital community ambassador, long-time resident and leader for years. “He was a fabulous person,” said Harrison, who cited his roots to the area since the late 1940s.
Elder, 86, passed away on Feb. 2 in Manitou Springs. A memorial service will be held for Cal Elder on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church (701 North 20th Street, Colorado Springs). In lieu of flowers, a memorial gift would be welcomed at Westside Cares, 1930 West Colorado Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80904.
Elder, who had lived in Manitou Springs in recent years due to his health, had been involved with a slew of local organizations, including the Church in the Wildwood, the Woodland Park Planning Commission, the Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce and a variety of service clubs. He also served as a Teller county commissioner for four years during a challenging political time. More notably, Elder tagged the famous promotional tag line for Woodland., the “City Above the Clouds.”.In fact, many still regard this as the catch phrase that best markets the region. Elder founded several insurance companies, including the Insurance Center in Woodland Park.
In addition, Elder paved the way for the Teller County government’s acquisition of the Catamount Ranch open space area and an eventual agreement with the Catamount Institute. This preserved a vital wildlife corridor and created a prime recreational opportunities for local residents.
And even in his later years, Elder led a crusade to save this area, when pressure mounted for county leaders to sell this open space mecca. He also was strongly involved in the initial downtown development efforts in Woodland Pak. Although he moved to Manitou, leaders say his “heart was always in Woodland Park. “This was his home,” added Harrison.”
Elder was born on July 6, 1926 in Wichita, Kansas. He was the youngest of four children of Lenore Carson Elder and Emil Elder. He attended Wichita public schools and graduated from Kansas State University in 1949. Elder served in World War II in the 631st Tank Destroyer Battalion. During his military career, he also served as a security guard at General Patton’s 3rd Army Headquarters in Germany. Cal married Donna in 1947 and they raised four children. He also had five grandchildren and two grand grandchildren.