Bridge Builder : Hugh Colton, From Country Lawyer to Combat Hero
Los Angeles, Calif.
"Hugh Colton had an idea. In his mid-20s and looking to make his mark, he had already accomplished a lot--served a volunteer two-year mission for his church, graduated from college, married a trophy wife, Marguerite Maughan, and now had a civil service job and was in law school in the nation's capital. Busy as he was, something still tugged at Hugh. Early in 1927 he wrote his good friend J.W. (Bill) Marriott, back home. Root beer, a new-fangled drink that was the rage in their native Utah, might be a hit in muggy Washington. At Hugh's suggestion, Bill secured a franchise from A&W Root Beer for the greater capital area. On May 20, 1927 three young men on the East Coast took off: Charles A. Lindbergh, to cross the Atlantic solo for the first time, and Hugh and Bill, who opened their nine-stool root beer stand that same morning. Lindbergh, of course, made it--and so did Hugh and Bill. They charged just 5 cents for a frosty mug of root beer. Not a lot, but enough to launch what became Marriott International. The following year something else tugged at Hugh: a longing to be back home in the West and, especially, to be with his beloved horses. Failing to talk the Coltons out of leaving, Bill bought their half of the business for $5,000. Hugh and Marguerite returned to Vernal, Utah. Hugh became a rancher and country lawyer, while Marguerite took the lead in rearing their four children and tending to numerous civic causes. As World War II crept closer to America's doorstep, Hugh, at 40, organized a local unit of the Army National Guard. He had a ranch, a law practice, and four children to guide, but could not deny the call of his country. For the next five years, as Marguerite kept the home fires burning, Hugh led combat engineer troops in the US, the UK, and from the shores of Normandy to the heart of Germany. One correspondent called Hugh and his men the 'bravest of the brave.' Hugh received a battlefield commission to full colonel from Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower, and returned to Utah as one of its most decorated heroes. He and Marguerite dedicated the rest of their lives to lifting their country, their community, and their family." [Publisher's abstract]