Intimately tied to the history of Cripple Creek, Steve Mackin inherited a legacy and, through his work with the community, left an indelible footprint on the city. Mackin died Sept. 5 at the age of 65.
“Steve’s death is a great loss for the community; it’s the end of an era,” said Mary Bielz.
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer more than four years ago, Mackin maintained a positive attitude throughout his treatment. For him, each day was a blessing, a gift to be cherished.
Talking about her friend of more than 40 years, Bielz highlighted Mackin’s spirituality as the source of his strength. “The depth of his leadership came from his spirituality,” she said. “He was active and rigorous, worked at his spiritual life, which was the wellspring of his creativity.”
Mackin’s civic service covered a broad range. City councilman three times, board member of the RE-1 School District, Two Mile High Club, Elks Lodge, volunteer fire department, planning commission and Cripple Creek District Museum, Mackin was ever-present.
“He loved the community and was a mover and a shaker to improve the quality of life in Cripple Creek,” Bielz said.
Senior Warden at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Mackin designed the church’s stained-glass windows.
“The art of creating was the lifeblood of his soul and I think he always saw things through that light,” Bielz said. “The act of creation brought a sense of renewal, of revitalization in bringing things into existence and the joy that comes from that.”
Bielz recalls Mackin’s jewelry shop which he opened on Third Street and Bennett Avenue in the 1970s. “It was always a delight to go in there,” Bielz said. “He always wore a leather apron and a headband with a magnifying glass so he could see things in detail.”
The son of the late Dorothy and Wayne Mackin, owners of the Imperial Hotel and founders of the famed melodrama, Mackin and his wife Bonnie carried on the legacy until 1992.
“Steve loved Bonnie, loved his family and the community,” Bielz said.
While the Mackins had moved to Manitou Springs recently, they continued to own and operate the Cripple Creek Hospitality House and RV Park. “He wrote a book on hospitality in the district,” Bielz said. “As well, he started the scholarship fund for seniors at Cripple Creek\Victor High School for students going on to study art.”
Despite suffering the effects of cancer, Mackin was on hand to display his jewelry and talk to his friends, as he had for years, in the “Once Upon a Time in the West” art show in late June at the Cripple Creek Heritage Center.
“When I asked if he wanted to do the show, he said, ‘Of course, I’m doing the show.’ I think it was good for him,” said Bonnie Mackin.
Steve and Bonnie met at the Imperial Hotel 45 years ago. A reluctant new resident of Cripple Creek, Bonnie arrived at the hotel in a vicious April snowstorm. She’d driven from Kansas to apply for the job of secretary to the elder Mackins.
“No way did I think I’d be there for 45 years,” she said.
Bonnie and Steve were married in 1969 and she adapted to the high altitude and fast-paced lifestyle that went along with the popular melodrama.
The Imperial was Steve Mackin’s home for the first five years of his childhood, a place where the dining room doubled as his tricycle track.
“Steve’s mother wrote a little history book of the family,” Bonnie Mackin said.
While her husband suffered, especially toward the end, he fought taking pain pills. “He didn’t want to be drugged but to be alert to talk to his friends,” she said. “He was very brave. I’ve lost the love of my life.”
A celebration of Mackin’s life is from 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Imperial Hotel in Cripple Creek.