Longtime Colorado Springs philanthropist Margot Lane dies

By: Rich Laden and Caroline Laganas

June 12, 2017 Updated: Today at 7:12 am
070713 KPWE 052213 Photo by Linda Navarro Unstoppable Woman Margot Lane
Margot Lane loved Colorado Springs, and her affection played out for years as a volunteer and philanthropist.

Her passion for the community was on display across a variety of charities, organizations and institutions, whether the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the Pikes Peak YMCA, Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado, or First Presbyterian Church, to name a few.

And wherever she went, she made friends, who said they appreciated her outgoing personality, smile and zest for life.

“She loved this community very, very much as well as her family,” said businesswoman and philanthropist Kathy Loo, a longtime friend. “She was extremely generous and enthusiastic for so many parts of our community.”

Margaret Ladwig “Margot” Lane, who enriched the lives of Springs’ residents through her work with schools, colleges and nonprofits, died Monday from complications of lung cancer. She was 78.

“She just cared about people,” said son Phil Lane. “She was super sweet. Remembered everybody’s name. She just really loved people, loved being around folks.”

Lane was born in St Louis. Her family moved to Colorado Springs in 1952, where her father started a foundry, according to a family obituary. She graduated from Colorado Springs (now Palmer) High School in 1956. She met husband John E. Lane in junior high and at First Presbyterian Church; they married in 1958.

The Lanes moved to Germany when John was stationed in the Army, had two sons, returned to the U.S. and then had a third son.

In 1971, they returned to Colorado Springs and John went to work in the family business – a Pepsi bottling company started by his father, which at one time was the eighth-largest in the country. John took ownership of the company in 1979; under John and Margo, the business expanded to Arizona and New Mexico before the Lanes sold it in 2008.

She and her husband formed the John E. and Margaret L. Lane Foundation to give back to the community.

The foundation donated $4 million in 2011 to launch the $18.5 million Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The center opened in 2014 and includes the Lane Family Senior Health Clinic, operated by Peak Vista Community Health Centers, as well as gerontology wellness and medical programs.

In the spring of 2012, the university awarded her the University Medal and she was named the 2013 Unstoppable Woman of the Year at UCCS. She had special ties to the school; at 40, Lane graduated in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in history from the university.

“It’s hard to capsulize what Mrs. Lane meant because she was a devoted alum,” said Pam Shockley-Zalabak, UCCS’ former chancellor. “She engaged with students and programs with a real love for seeing the growth of UCCS.

“One of her defining characteristics is how much she cared about the vision of what we could do if we worked together.”

In 2016, the Lane Foundation announced plans to transform Helen Hunt Elementary School into a campus for nonprofit organizations. The foundation agreed to buy Helen Hunt from Colorado Springs School District 11 for $1 and committed $2 million to renovate the school. The foundation also contributed $1 million to help build the U.S. Olympic Museum.

The Lane Institute for Urban Education and Leadership was funded by Lane to infuse more leadership and investment in Colorado Springs School District 11. The nonprofit can participate in issue campaigns and will support education advocacy, policy and leadership issues in the community.

“She puts not only her money, but personal support behind the things she thinks are important,” said best friend Jean Bodman.

Even before the foundation, Lane volunteered for and sat on the boards of many organizations, such as the Junior League, Goodwill, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic and the Young Life youth ministry.

She also loved life, including traveling and get-togethers with friends.

“Her infectious laughter, her smile will long be remembered, but it’s her selfless support of others that will remain her legacy,” said friend Vicki Dimond.

“What she’s given this city and those who dwell here, especially the nonprofit sector, is priceless.”

A devout Christian, Lane was a member of First Presbyterian Church. Her faith, according to a family obituary, carried her through many hardships, including the death of a son, Bruce, in 1997, and her husband’s death in 2005. Both died from pancreatic cancer.

Lane is survived by her second husband, John Francis; sons Phil and David; stepdaughters Tina Dorn and Sylvia Dyke; brother Frank Ladwig; and several grandchildren.

A visitation will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Swan-Law Funeral Directors, 501 N. Cascade Ave. A service will be at 1 p.m. Friday at First Presbyterian Church, 219 E. Bijou St.

In lieu of flowers, donations should be sent to Young Life, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo or other charities.