Last week, Mammoth lost a long-time local business and community leader, former Mogul owner Dan Haydon (left), pictured with current Mogul owner-operator Carey Sigmen. (Submitted photo)
Daniel R. Haydon, 82, formerly of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., died Feb. 26 in Quincy, Ill.
He was born August 29, 1928, to Rufus and Josephine (Grace) Haydon in Palmyra, Mo. He served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War and was honorably discharged in California. After attending Los Angeles City College, he taught in L.A., as well as in Okinawa and France. Later he settled in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., where he was an avid skier. He worked his way up at the Mogul Steak House from dishwasher to owner, creating a highly successful business with hard work, contemporary expansions, and a vibrant personality. He poured his heart and soul into his restaurant and took pride that it was a popular meeting place for locals as well as tourists.
Like Mr. Haydon before him, Carey Sigmen worked many years at the Mogul before assuming control of the business. And as Mr. Sigmen can attest, it was hard to slow Mr. Haydon down. “He went through five different hip replacements during the time we worked together,” recalls Mr. Sigmen.
Dan was very civic-minded and an enthusiastic, generous supporter of the arts and education. He served on the Mammoth Lakes Foundation as board of director, chair of the arts committee, and diamond partner. He received special recognition awards from the Mammoth Chamber of Commerce as a board member and from the Mammoth Lions Club for exemplary service.
He was also one of two people who’ve ever been selected as an “honorary fierman” by the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department.
“He had no immediate family and no children,” said Mr. Sigmen. “The Town was his family.”
Tony Lober, who served as caretaker for Mr. Haydon during the last five years he lived in Mammoth, added, “Mostly, I admired his generosity and his desire to give back to Mammoth. He was not a man of means, but he had a big heart. He was generous with what he had.”
By all accounts, Dan Haydon was a lot of fun, outgoing, with a great sense of humor. As Mr. Lober said, “He had his day … and he was spry [in that day].”
It just leaves one wanting to know more about those “skinny legs” parties.
Mammoth Lakes Foundation Executive Director Evan Russell described Haydon as a “wonderful, generous man who always had the interest of the community at heart.”
In particular, Russell recalled his experience as a young man in town working at the hill and making $3-4/hour. “He [Haydon] knew we didn’t have a lot of money. He would always toss a little something extra on our plates.”
In regard to Haydon’s passion for college and the theatre, Russell noted that Haydon sponsored three or four performances (including James Whitmore’s memorable turn as Will Rogers) all by himself.
Following retirement, he enjoyed travels to Asia, Europe, theCaribbean Islands, and throughout the U.S. In 2008 he moved to assisted living in Quincy, Ill. He treasured his family, friends, and caretakers.
More than 100 people attended Mr. Haydon’s 80th birthday party.
The Sheet received the following rememberance of Dan from one of his many local friends:
“I first met Dan in the summer of 1984. Our family started coming up to Mammoth for our summer vacation. We would go out for dinner one night during the week we stayed and started going to the Mogul. From the first time I met Dan, I felt a closeness with him that I hadn’t ever felt with a stranger before.
He welcomed my family with a huge smile and hugs. From that moment on, we made it an annual visit to see Dan when up in Mammoth. When my daughter’s and I moved up to Mammoth in 1992, the first customer I saw in the bank was Dan. I ran to him and gave him a hug. From that day on we became the BEST of friends.
One of my fondest memories of Dan is how he LOVED to play practical jokes. One of the many he played on April Fool’s Day was when he showed up at the bank with his hip cast on and crutches. I saw him walking up and ran to him with tears in my eyes because I had thought that he had hurt his hip again. Seeing me so upset, he threw his crutches to the ground and simply said “April Fool’s!” I then punched him on his arm. He must have laughed for 10 minutes.
Dan was the most giving individual I have ever met. Everyone became his family and while some took advantage of his generosity, most appreciated him for the loving and unique qualities he shared with us. He was an ICON in Mammoth and was sorely missed when he had to move for medical reasons.
I stayed in touch with Dan after he moved, but wish that I would have spent more time with him. I miss his laughter and companionship, and I know that many others do as well. May he rest in peaceful sleep!” -Vicki Russell
Dan is survived by a brother, Jack (Janice) Haydon of Fairview Heights, Ill.; many nieces and nephews including Karen Hammond of Palmyra; and his dog Ruby. He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers, sisters, and in-laws Joe (Ruth) Haydon; Dick (Louise) Haydon; Doris Haydon; and Mary Virginia (Harold) Engelhart; niece Mary Ann Engelhart, and dogs Shadow, Toby and Cocoa.
Memorials can be sent to Mammoth Foundation, Edison Hall, 100 College Parkway, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546.
A celebration of life service will be held in Mammoth Lakes on Sunday, March 20 at 1 p.m. in the Cerro Coso College lobby.
In lieu of flowers please make donations to the Mammoth Lakes Foundation.