On 8 May 2020, Daniel Piña Masias, passed away peacefully at Briarwood Nursing Home in Denver, Colorado. Daniel lived 92 glorious years of life.
Daniel was born in Rocky Ford, Colorado on 1 April 1928 to parents Gonzalo and Jacoba Masias who were from Aguascalientes, Mexico. Daniel is preceded in death by siblings: Eliseo, Barbara, George, Jesus, Raymond and Lydia. Daniel’s living siblings are brothers: Arthur and David of Pueblo, Colorado.
Daniel spent over 65 years with his beloved wife, Helen Lujan, of Casper, Wyoming. Together, they proudly raised 11 children: Daniel Jr., Patricia, Donald, Glen, Timothy, Samuel, Deborah, Julie, and Brian.
Daniel was baptized at the Saint Peters Catholic Parish and attended the Rocky Ford Public School through the 5th grade. As a teenager, he was employed by the Rocky Ford Sugar Beet Company and worked as a farm laborer. In early adulthood, along with his elder brothers, Daniel co-managed several Arkansas Valley businesses including the Star Café, Pickwick Diner and the Airplane Inn. In 1948, Daniel and business partner, Claude Tyler, hosted Duke Ellington and Lena Horne at the Airplane Inn dance hall in La Junta, Colorado.
In 1955, Daniel and his growing family moved to Pueblo where he worked as a loading dock worker for the Walters Brewing Company, and later rose to become a union shop foreman. In 1967 with little more than hope and a prayer, Daniel relocated his family to Colorado Springs to purchase the Original Mission Bell Inn restaurant in Manitou Springs. It was this endeavor that Daniel and Helen, along with their children, were able to establish one of the most successful Mexican restaurants in the Pikes Peak region. As a highly respected local business owner, Daniel provided formative opportunities for the many local young men and women who worked at the Mission Bell Inn over a 40 year period.
Attesting to Daniel’s business acumen were numerous newspaper articles that were published, including his purchase of the Original Mission Bell Inn featured in the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph in June 1968. “How To Keep Your Kids Busy”, Rocky Mountain Empire Magazine, May 1970; “Manitou Business Is Family Partnership”, Gazette Telegraph newspaper, September 1974; “Sons of Boss Tell Their Tale”, Gazette Telegraph newspaper, July 1977; “Mission Bell’s Word-Of-Mouth Cuisine Keeps Customers Coming Back” Gazette Telegraph, January 1981; “Dear Old Dads Shape Young Lives” Colorado Springs Sun, June 1985; and “Why Not Dress It Up A Little”, Pikes Peak Journal, July 1987.
At the behest and nominations from Pikes Peak Region business leaders including Robert Norris (The Marlboro Man), in September 1975, Governor Richard Lamm bestowed upon Daniel and his family the title of “First Family Of The Colorado State Fair”. In February 1979, Bank of Manitou President Kenneth E. Baird appointed Daniel as a member of the Manitou Springs Board of Directors. Daniel also served on the board of the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce and Sertoma Club. In these governance positions, Daniel is remembered for his sound wisdom and ethical representation of his business community.
During Daniel’s golden years, he drafted a manuscript entitled “Unmarked Graves” which framed the arduous migration of his parents from Aguascalientes, Mexico due to the Mexican Revolution of 1910. His manuscript is held in the Western History permanent collection at the Denver Public Library.
Daniel had a keen way of nurturing the potential in people and saw the world as unbounded potential. He was a self-educated man and had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. His favorite philosopher was Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Daniel was a larger than life loving father who sacrificed everything for his family and imparted on them his high moral values and strong work ethic. Daniel and his legacy now belong to the ages.
Daniel’s family, along with the Shrine of Remembrance Funeral Home, will be hosting a graveside celebration of life at the Manitou Springs Crystal Valley Cemetery on 17 May 2020.