Jay Cimino: Remembering a southern Colorado legend

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(COLORADO SPRINGS) — The Southern Colorado community came together on Friday to remember the life and legacy of former president and CEO of Phil Long dealerships and local legend, Jay Cimino.

Hundreds of people filled the sanctuary at the Saint Paul Catholic Church in Colorado Springs for a mass service. Then, shortly after, the community gathered at the Broadmoor Rocky Mountain Ballroom for a celebration of life to honor the beloved philanthropist and prominent member of the Southern Colorado community.

“I think what he’s most proud of is what he does to help people in need,” said Robert McLaughlin, executive director at Mt. Carmel Service Center.

“Very generous guy. Very humble guy who took care of everybody,” remembered Mike Shanahan, former Broncos head coach.

“Jay was probably one of the most dynamic, visionary, people-oriented people I’ve ever known,” said Gary Fentiman, a friend of Cimino’s for 35 years.

In 1954, Cimino enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, which helped fuel his passion for helping veterans, and eventually lead him to partner with McLaughlin to launch the Veterans Service Center in 2016.

“He’s so proud of his service as a marine,” McLaughlin said. “He loves to help people, and especially in a community like this, to be able to help veterans, military and their families with a variety of services is such an honor.”

Cimino is most known for opening a Phil Long dealership in Trinidad, breathing life into the city that always had his heart.

“Probably one of my favorite stories is Fisher’s Peak, which looms over the town of Trinidad, went up for sale,” Fentiman said with a chuckle. “Jay pulled me into his office and he said, I want to buy a mountain… He took 14 of us up in jeeps to the top, below the peak and just had a sit down. And he was the scoutmaster and we were the Boy Scouts. Jay talked about his vision of buying the mountain and dedicating it back to the city. And six months later we dedicated Fisher’s Peak State Park.”

Randy Gradishar, 2025 NFL Hall of Fame Inductee, remembered when Cimino started trying to get the former Denver Broncos linebacker into the hall of fame 35 years ago.

“Just to see what Jay did, building a committee and doing this for 35 years,” Gradishar said. “And then to also realize, well, if you take 35 years, you change that number around, what do you got? Fifty-three, my jersey number.”

Cimino always went back to his roots, building several playgrounds in his hometown and oversaw multiple historic preservation and commercial development projects, continuing to keep Trinidad on the map, or as he liked to call it, the Home of Champions.

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