Thursday, July 7, 2005
Entrepreneur Promoted Tourism Industry
By Lloyd Jojola, Whether he was promoting the Turquoise Trail or creating Sandia Crest House, Rex Borough was an icon in the New Mexico tourism industry.
Journal Staff Writer
"He was just a huge promoter of the Southwest," said his daughter Sherry Perry.
An Albuquerque resident since 1937, when he opened a Downtown printing shop, Borough died Saturday. He was 88.
Memorial services will be held today at 2 p.m. at French Mortuary, 1111 University NE.
Borough was inducted into the New Mexico Tourism Hall of Fame in 1997, and for years served as tourist committee chairman with the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.
One of his notable creations was the Sandia Crest House.
Borough had seen Pikes Peak and other mountaintop tourism operations and the "terrific traffic" they drew and he figured Sandia Peak would also be a success, he told the Journal in a 1990 story.
"When I drove up on the Crest the first time, I said, 'By gosh, this is the place,' '' he said.
With his wife, Jane, he opened and ran the Sandia Crest House, a gift shop and restaurant, in 1955. That was back when the biggest selling souvenirs were 50-cent salt-and-pepper shakers with a reproduction of the U.S. Forest Service marker that showed the mountain top.
Rex Denver Borough was born on a farm in eastern New Mexico, south of Portales. His grandparents had been territorial-era homesteaders.
"That experience growing up (there) ... did a tremendous amount to shape my father's outlook on life," Perry said.
"It really emphasized family and community."
Borough spent some time in Texas working at a newspaper and became interested in and knowledgeable about printing. He moved to Albuquerque in the late 1930s and launched Babcock & Borough, his own printing business.
"And it wasn't just a print shop," Perry said. "The main thing that came out of that was the line of Christmas cards and stationery they sold all over the Southwest and through catalogs to people all over the country."
Borough used original works from such notable artists as George Phippen, Lyman Byxbe and Betty Gordan for his Southwestern-themed cards and stationery.
"And it was through that shop he met everybody," Perry said. "His very close friend and associate in the Republican Party and in Toastmasters International was George McKim."
Borough was said to be actively involved in Republican Party politics his entire life.
Borough also is known for his involvement in founding and serving as president of the Turquoise Trail Association.
Along with those endeavors, Borough sold real estate and owned and operated the Southwest Grayline Tours in the early 1970s and 1980s. He also printed the Albuquerque Story tourist guidebook.
He was the published author of two books, as well, and was active in the Southwest Writers Workshop.
Borough also was the founder and first president of the West Side Association and a past governor of Toastmaster International District No. 23, past president of the Rio Grande Lion's Club and past president of Skall International, his family said.
His only other real interest outside of his business ventures was his family.
"He loved to have fun with his family and gatherings," said granddaughter Cyndy Bowra.
But Borough will most be remembered as entrepreneur.
"That's one of the things that I think kept him alive for so long ... he always had this interest in these things that just kind of chugged him along," Bowra said.
Borough is survived by his daughters, Sherry Perry of Fall Creek, Ore., Linda Borough of Albuquerque, Marcy Keeler of Milpitas, Calif.; his son, Hayes Keeler and his wife, Georgene, of San Francisco; 17 grandchildren; 15 grandchildren and numerous other relatives.
Contributions can be made to ARCA, 11300 Lomas NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87112.