When Sue Daley started with Colorado Mountain College in the early 70’s, the college’s footprint in Summit County wasn’t more than a small studio condo.
“I moved to Breckenridge where my brother and his friends were working as carpenters,” recalls Sue. “And I didn't know what I was going to do.”
But when she saw a newspaper ad for a director of continuing education at CMC, she jumped at the chance. Well, more like she ran to the nearest payphone.
“I found a payphone and called and arranged an interview and, actually, I got the job because I was the only person that had any experience in Continuing Education,” says Sue, who retired in 2015 after 42 years with CMC as a full-time staff member, contractor, and finally regional development officer in west Garfield County for the CMC Foundation.
Through the years, as the college’s footprint continued to grow in the High Country it only brought the community closer together. Continuing education had caught on in a big way and Sue looked to find a permanent home for CMC in Breckenridge.
She set her sights on an old brick building built at the turn of the century that had served as the public high school, the fire station, and most recently, the town hall.
Money was tight, so she called on community members, who volunteered their time to work on the building and who also donated furniture.
“It was just a high energy, fun, great way to put a college together,” notes Sue.
“And the cool thing about it was the community was so invested, not only from teaching there, helping, or whatever; but physically washing windows and laying carpet.”
People would bring things by and “leave them on the doorsteps,” she said. Sue managed the remodeling work with the contractors and even varnished the gym floor herself.
“Everything that we could do anything with, we either turned into cash or we put it in the new center,” she says.
But the strangest request came from Copper Mountain when they ask Sue if the college wanted a cement mixer.
“So I thought, ‘well, we could certainly maybe use it to mix clay,’” recalls Sue. “We had a big ceramics program.”
Come to find out, it was a 1949 Autocar cement mixer truck with a big, tumbling cement mixer on the back of it.
And it didn't run.
“But we did advertise it, and we were able to sell it,” Sue says. “I can't remember how much money we got for it, but that went into the pot.”
The building was finished in 1977 and named for then CMC President Elbie Gann. The CMC center boasted dance, ceramics and photography studios, an art department, classrooms and the Breckenridge Branch of the Summit County Library.
Sue retired from CMC in June 1982, and went on to publish Summit Magazine and form an advertising agency, Cope, Daley, McCrea, that marketed Breckenridge. She later moved to a ranch near Silt and worked for the CMC Foundation, where she was instrumental in securing several million dollars in gifts to support students and a new facility in Rifle.