Have You Met?
Name: John Hickenlooper
Hometown: Narberth, PA, small town bordering Philadelphia
Resident: 21 years
Education: Undergrad degree in English and Masters in Geology from Wesleyan University, Middletown CT
Profession: Brewing entrepreneur, developer, restaurateur, charity fundraiser, possible mayoral candidate and family man.
Family: Married to Helen Thorpe, father of Theodore Bailey Hickenlooper, six weeks old
Story by: Julie Hullverson
John Hickenlooper is many things - a brewing entrepreneur, a squash champ, a developer, a restaurateur, a geologist, a philanthropist, an art collector and a family man. And, he might just be our next mayor.
Although he won't commit to the notion wholeheartedly, he did say he was seriously considering it. “I’m excited and intrigued by the opportunity to be that involved in making this city great.” he says, “but I have a wife and a son and it needs to be a group decision. I wont do it until we all decide it’s the right thing to do.”
This is a marked change of pace from a man who remained famously single until last year when he married Helen Thorpe, a freelance writer. “An old college friend dissed all my girlfriends, so I challenged her to find me someone and she introduced me to Helen.”
Helen is originally from New York and has lived in Austin for the past eight years. “I had seen a picture of her in George Magazine, for whom she used to write, and I went down to Austin to meet her, but she wasn’t even there. So I went down to meet her a second time and crashed her birthday party. There was definitely a deep intrigue at first sight.”
Helen came to Denver shortly thereafter and basically never left. She and John were married last year and six weeks ago came bouncing baby Theodore Bailey Hickenlooper.
Marriage and family seems to suit John well. “My state of mind is divine. It’s amazing how happy you can be on so little sleep,” he says; and concerning his wish for Teddy’s future he adds, “I don’t care if he’s a fight promoter or an accountant, what I want most for him is to be happy.”
And what else could the future hold for this new dad who not only re-vamped Lo-Do, but continues his development endeavors, oversees the Wynkoop and eight other local restaurants, and is considering running for Mayor? “I’d love to own a baseball team someday, maybe I’ll try to get the Rockies,” he says. “And there are lots of books I’d like to write, but I don’t think I’ll get to those anytime soon though.”
What gives a woman/man style? What’s inside of a person - great style emanates from within.
Favorite Restaurant: The Cherry Cricket
Which social event is your favorite? The Collector’s Choice Gala at the Denver Art Museum because every year the food and wine are incredible and it has the most interesting group of people. Local patrons who own some of the best vineyards provide wine to the event like the Duncan family with Silver Oak, Tom Jordan of Jordan Winery and Bob Rich with Clos Du Val.
What are your volunteer activities? I’m on the Board of the Denver Art Museum, the Metro Denver Convention Visitors Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado and the National Association of Brewers. I’m the Chair of the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts and on the Board of the Chinook Fund.
Who is the most interesting celebrity you have ever met? Kurt Vonnegut. We met coincidentally in 1995 and he had been a friend of my father’s, unbeknownst to me. My father died when I was seven and he had been Kurt Vonnegut’s roommate at Cornell. I cried when he told me he knew my father so well. What are the chances of that? Someone up there must be connecting the dots. He wrote me a whole page of reminiscences about my father, things that I never knew.
Who is your hero and why? My mother because she raised four kids, had two husbands die, would never accept defeat and was determined to make our lives better, and she did.
If your life were a movie, who would play your part? William Hurt, ten years ago.
Saturday nights at midnight are most likely to find you: Talking to the two off-duty policemen who are working upstairs in the Wynkoop brewing company.
Do you have any pets? I just buried my dog that I had for 17 years on our 600 acres in Bailey, Colorado. Now I have an Australian cattle dog and a cat that I got as part of the dowry when I married Helen Thorpe.
When you move, what will your home tell its next owner, about you? If only the walls could talk, here occurred some shining times.
What one word describes you best? Persistent
What word would you like others to use to describe you? Kind
What was your first job? My very first job was shoveling snow off sidewalks when I was 8 in Pennsylvania and my first real job where I received a paycheck was for mowing lawns for a company called Lawn Kare outside Philadelphia.
What word or expression do you use too much? Let’s get to the point
If there were one thing you would change about yourself, what would it be? I would have had a baby 20 years ago; they’re a blast.
What is your greatest indulgence? Time. I took the month of in July off to spend time with my wife and son.
What is the best gift you have ever given? The landlady of one of our restaurants is very ill with terminal cancer and her hospital room was directly above where Teddy was born in July. The doctors said no, but we convinced the nurses to let us take Teddy up and visit her before we left the hospital because she really wanted to see him. He wrapped his fingers around her forefinger and we all cried.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? My wife, Helen Thorpe
Which talent would you most like to have? I’d like to be able to sing on key
What is your current state of mind? Sleepless, but divine.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? It’s a toss up between helping co-found the Wynkoop, and helping co-found the Chinook fund.
What is your most treasured possession? Nothing really after my family. But, on my grandfather’s wedding day, he received a grandfather clock from his grandfather and my cousins gave it to me. It was my great-great Grandfather’s, after whom my son Theodore is named. What makes it so treasured is that you never really own a great piece of art, you’re just a custodian, saving it for the next generation and that’s the way I feel about that clock, it’s just like art.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue: Punctuality. Important, but overrated.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Spending too much time alone.
What is the quality you most like in a man? Honesty
What is the quality you most like in a woman? Grace
What is the best advice you have ever received? A local oilman and entrepreneur, Frederick Mayer, told me, “Never quit.”
What are some of your favorite books? Favorite Writers? Kurt Vonnegut and he already was before I met him, Ann Crittenden, who wrote The Price of Motherhood, and The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida.
What is your motto? “If you start to take Vienna, take Vienna.” Napoleon Bonaparte
If i ever got into public office...you would be my life model. Keep up the the good work you do.
Will be good to see you again!
Many ALS Board members will be there -
You are exactly what Denver needed to bring it into the present century. I hold you and Helen in the greatest respect and wish you the very best in 2005.