How can a man travel just four blocks and still cover a vast distance? Take the case of Duane B. Hagadone:
“I can turn in my office chair,” he says, “and look back two blocks to the home my parents lived in until their deaths. My original home, the one I grew up in, is two blocks beyond that. I love to say I’ve come a total of four blocks in my life.”
But what a four blocks. Though just an anonymous kid at the start of his journey, Hagadone would rise steadily in wealth and influence, becoming the most famous son of the town he could never bring himself to leave. He would spend many winters in the Southern California desert, but his real home, he always made clear, was the town where he was born–the town whose name he would one day give to a world-class hotel: The Coeur d’Alene Resort.
Hagadone was born in 1932, the son of a newspaper advertising salesman. The Hagadone family was by then well established in North Idaho. Duane’s father, Burl, was one of five children of Ray and Addie Hagadone, who lived at Medimont in the chain-lake area east of Lake Coeur d’Alene. Driven from his home by the great fire of 1910, Ray put his wife and children in a small boat and floated them north from Harrison to Coeur d’Alene, leaving all the family’s possessions behind.
Ray found work at a sawmill. Son Burl went to public schools in Coeur d’Alene and briefly attended college before joining the Coeur d’Alene Press as an ad salesman. He would eventually become publisher of the Press and would establish two radio stations: KVNI in Coeur d’Alene and KNEW in Spokane. He had many other business interests and held many leadership positions, including the presidency of the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce.
Burl and his wife, the former Beverly Edmonds, had two daughters, Kay and Joan, in addition to son Duane. The first family home was on Park Drive across the street from the city park. It was from there that Duane would measure what he called his four-block journey through life.
Like his father, Duane was a tireless worker. He was only 9 when he began taking care of a neighbor’s yard, and his proficiency soon landed him yard work for other neighbors. He got a job delivering the Press at age 11 and later added a second paper route. By age 16 he had familiarized himself with newspaper production and was working at the Press after school and on weekends. “Working at the paper was a way of seeing more of my father,” he saID
After high school, Duane spent a half year at the University of Idaho, then left to return to work, which he found more appealing than academics. He soon took a job at the Press, where his dad had become publisher. Duane sold advertising for six years and continued to nourish his close relationship with his father. The two talked of building one newspaper into a newspaper group. They had the capacity, but not the time. Burl Hagadone died of cancer at 49. The Scripps organization, which controlled the paper, offered Duane the publisher’s job, though he was only 26. “I had a lot to learn,” he saID “I got the job because there was no one else they could go to. I guess you could say I got it by default. But I was excited about the opportunity.“
Hagadone made the Press the most successful newspaper in the Scripps group and eventually acquired an interest in other papers the group was buying. By 1976 he had decided he wanted to be on his own.
He and the Scripps League divided their holdings. Hagadone came away the owner of six papers and organized the Hagadone Corporation, which would eventually have four divisions: newspapers, hospitality, real estate and investments. The newspaper division now operates 17 papers. The real-estate division owns about 100 buildings and development sites in the West.
In his hometown, Hagadone’s most conspicuous holding is the elegant Coeur d’Alene Resort, a 338-room hotel on the downtown waterfront. The resort’s golf course has the world’s only floating green. Golf Digest gave it five stars, an honor won by only 15 other courses out of 6,200.
Hagadone himself has won many honors, including a place in the Idaho Hall of Fame. In 2004 he won one of the awards given distinguished Americans by the Horatio Alger Association.
Hagadone and his wife, Lola, have homes in the Coeur d’Alene area and in Palm Desert, California, near Palm Springs. He has three adult sons.