The holidays often bring out the best in people, and it is certainly no secret — Cedaredge is, beyond any doubt, a "giving" community.
Some area residents take great pride in "giving back to the community," others embrace the more contemporary ideology to "Pay it forward," especially during the holiday season.
Some join the Peace Corps while others join the Rotary or Lions Club, church outreach groups and other benevolent volunteer organizations, in order to make a positive difference in their communities and in the lives of others.
Then there are the untold number of individuals who, like longtime Cedaredge area residents Leslie (Les) O. Mergleman and Dorothy Jean Mergleman, live their lives in such a manner as to serve their communities with no expectations. For these people, it is simply "a way of life."
Born and raised in Gunnison, Les, one of four children born to Warren and Margaret Mergleman, is a fourth generation western Colorado native. He graduated from Gunnison High School in 1964 before attending Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, where he eventually earned his BS degree in animal science.
Dorothy was born and raised in Cedaredge, one of two daughters born to Vernon and Lillian Wick. The Wicks owned Wick's Market, located on W. Main Street in Cedaredge for many years. Dorothy graduated from Cedaredge High School in 1968 before attending Western State College in Gunnison, where she and Les eventually met via family acquaintances.
Les and Dorothy were married in the Cedaredge Community United Methodist Church in 1972, and in 1983 they moved to Cedaredge, making it their home. At the time, Les was the vice-president of the First National Bank of Cedaredge from 1983 until 1988 before becoming the president of Olathe State Bank. They have two children, Crandal and Karie.
For more than 40 years, Les has been associated with the National Western Stock Show, where he served as both superintendent and announcer for the International Sheep Shearing Contest. He has served on the Colorado State Fair Commission, and has served on the Delta County Fair board in various capacities for more than 20 years. In 2009 he was awarded the Colorado Fair Person of the Year.
Les has been the announcer for the Cedaredge Western Slope Little Britches Rodeo (LBR) for more than 25 years, and has been the auctioneer/announcer at all the Hotchkiss Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials since their inception in 2003. His extensive knowledge of rodeos and sheep dog trials, along with his great sense of humor, have helped to both educate and entertain the spectators.
Les has also served on the executive boards of Region 10, the Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway Association and Club 20. In 2009, he earned Club 20's prestigious award for outstanding service and dedication. Les said he has also been involved with
4-H and the Future Farmers of America (FFA) for as far back as he can remember.
In 2006, with more than 20 years of service, Dorothy retired from teaching. Les got her involved in 4-H and raising livestock and the two of them helped to build the local 4-H Club. Dorothy also became involved with the FFA via the FFA Alumni Association and is currently the vice president of the Colorado Future Farmers of America Alumni Association. The alumni chapters provide support for local FFA Chapters for leadership training and a variety of activities planned for by the chapter. Dorothy said there's not a lot of meetings and it doesn't cost a lot of money, but it is "a rewarding and fun experience getting to share time with the youth of our county."
Dorothy is also the president of the Delta County Fair Board and was recently awarded the prestigious 2011 "Fair Manager of the Year," by the Colorado Association of Fairs and Shows. She is also the store manager/coordinator of the Cedaredge Community United Methodist Church's "Thrift Shop." She and Les are both active members in various committees of the Cedaredge Community United Methodist Church.
In collaboration with two other Cedaredge residents, Jack and Bev Gardner, and help from a host of volunteers, Les and Dorothy took up the challenge to continue and preserve a decade-long tradition (started by Bob and Sally Beeson) of coordinating, hosting and serving up an annual free Christmas dinner for all the residents of the Town of Cedaredge. Les and Dorothy organize, coordinate and prepare the Christmas dinners on even numbered years, and the Gardners do the same on the odd numbered years. The dinners are free, but donations are welcome, and the monies raised by the event goes to support charitable organizations on the Western Slope.
Les and Dorothy are also actively involved with the Surface Creek Valley Historical Society (Les is a past president) and as usual, at least during his tenure, the Merglemans served up the meal for the society's annual meeting.
The Merglemans are best known for their support of various charities and organizations through their famous chuck-wagon barbecues, flippin' burgers, cook-outs, sit-down dinners, as well as stagecoach and buckboard-style hayrides. "I've done a lot of cooking," Les laughed.
For the Merglemans, service to one's community simply means sharing one's time and expertise to support the community and to help others in need, with no expectations.
When asked why, both said they were concerned about how selfish people have become and how it's all about "me, me, me." For Les, an agricultural community that supports the 4-H and FFA offers the best environment for teaching young people leadership skills and responsibility. "People need to take responsibility for their actions," he added.
Dorothy opined, "There is a generation of parents who do not understand their responsibilities to the community, and they are not teaching their kids to be responsible and to do for others."
Dorothy said she hopes that the kids realize that all the things that she and Les have done for their community and all the posts that they have held, they did as volunteers.
Les added that it was his father who taught him the value of being involved with the community. "Dad was always involved in his community," he smiled, "and I guess it rubbed off." Les then said that he and Dorothy have been more active and involved in their community since moving to Cedaredge than anywhere else.
"It just seemed like the thing to do," smiled Dorothy.blog comments powered by Disqus