Edward Kenneth Quillen III was born on November 12, 1950 in Greeley, Colorado, to Dorothy Quillen (now of Longmont) and Edward Kenneth Quillen, Jr. (died May 3, 2011). When he was two, the family moved to nearby Evans, where they lived in a log house his father built.
Ed attended Chappelow Elementary School and then Evans Junior-Senior High School until it closed in 1965 as a result of school consolidation. He then attended Greeley West High School, where he started an underground newspaper, and worked on the regular school paper, until his graduation in 1968.
He attended the University of Northern Colorado (it was Colorado State College when he started) off and on from 1968 to 1974, generally majoring in English. He wrote a regular feature called Old Weird Herald for the campus paper, the Mirror, and became editor in 1970-71.
While in college, he met Martha Patterson; they were married in the summer of 1969 and had two daughters, Columbine and Abby; both are married and living in Oregon. Abby has two sons, Ezra and Ira.
In 1972, Ed reported to the U.S. Army, which quickly agreed with Ed that he was not military material and gave him an honorable discharge. He returned to Greeley in the fall of 1973, but left the next spring.
Ed and Martha went to work for the weekly Middle Park Times in Kremmling in 1974; they bought it a year later, then sold it in 1977. For a few months In 1977-78, Ed edited the Summit County Journal in Breckenridge. They moved to Salida in the spring of 1978, where Ed was managing editor of its small daily, The Mountain Mail, until 1983, when he quit to become a full-time freelance writer.
He began selling occasional columns to the Denver Post in 1984, and in 1986 became a regular columnist. His column was the longest-running of any on The Denver Post’s op-ed page. He was also a regular contributor to High Country News, and he wrote for many other publications, including Empire, then the Sunday magazine of the Denver Post; Computer Shopper (he was the assembly-language columnist for a while); PC Computing; Profiles (the Kaypro computer users’ magazine; he was the CP/M columnist), Farm Journal, Country Journal, Bloomsbury Review, Clean Scene (a laundry trade journal), Utne Reader, Midnight Engineering, Spirit: the Magazine of the Southwest; Colorado Homes and Lifestyles, and the Los Angeles Times.
Ed also wrote, co-wrote, or ghost-wrote the following books:
- The White Stuff: The Bottom Line on Cocaine, written with B.J. Plasket, published in 1985 by Dell.
- Spitbol 386, written with Mark Emmer, published in 1986 by Catspaw. Most of this was written by Mark Emmer, who ported this old but powerful mainframe programming language to the PC, as he had earlier with SNOBOL4. Ed did editing and indexing, and contributed some writing.
- Mentally Tough: The Principle of Winning in Sports Applied to Business, published in 1986 by M. Evans & Co. Ed was the ghost-writer for James E. Loehr and Peter J. McLaughlin.
- Ten adult Westerns for the NAL/Signet Trailsman series, written with his wife Martha Quillen. All books in the series are supposedly written by Jon Sharpe, a pseudonym that covers many other ghostwriters. Ed and his wife Martha co-wrote: Confederate Challenge, 1987; Santa Fe Slaughter, 1987; Colorado Robber, 1988; Minnesota Missionary, 1988; Smoky Hell Trail, 1988; Utah Slaughter, 1988; Texas Hell Country, 1989; Mexican Massacre, 1989; Cave of Death, 1989; and Desperate Dispatch, 1989.
- Deep in the Heart of the Rockies, a selected collection of Ed’s Denver Post columns from 1986 to 1998, published in 1998 by Music Mountain Press of Westcliffe.
Martha and Ed founded Colorado Central Magazine, a regional monthly, in 1994 and published it for 15 years until they sold it to Mike Rosso in early 2009.
Ed was active in the Salida Business Alliance and Historic Salida, and organized Anza Day, a yearly event in Poncha Springs, Colorado celebrating Juan Baptiste de Anza, who left the first written record of what would become Central Colorado. A Colorado history buff, railroad buff, civil war buff, and Presidential trivia aficionado, Ed frequently gave local history presentations and was a regular speaker at the Headwaters Conference at Western State College for many years.
Ed had three brothers. Tony is a prison chaplain in South Carolina; Kurt is an engineer in Longmont, Colo. His third brother, Philip, died from complications of muscular dystrophy in 1974.
Ed died on June 3, 2012, at 61, of a heart attack. People across Colorado mourned his loss. You can read some of their tributes here.