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Profile: Lori Mason and Lisa Merck

The Hagedon Twinkies

 

The girls sit three feet apart on separate chairs, their hair in braids, wearing similar clothes and with indistinguishable identical features and voices. The only way to tell one from the other is that Lori has a brown knitted hat while Lisa dons the very same in blue. It’s interesting to listen to them speak together, not even having to finish sentences in their conversations with each other, as though they already know what the other is thinking or going to say. Twins can be tricky, but even more so when they’re mischievously oriented.
“Growing up, we pulled a lot of tricks on people, like switching classes on teachers,” Lori smiles. “One time one of my teachers said she could tell us apart, so we swapped classes unbeknownst to the teacher, and she didn’t know at all!” Dared by an aunt to swap classes in kindergarten, the twins exchanged places but this time the teacher realized it because they drew their artwork differently. 


Even now they’ll start spontaneously laughing about something only they can relate to, oftentimes not knowing what it is they’re laughing about. “It starts out as a giggle and just builds. We share thoughts and there’s an intuition that’s inherent,” says Lisa, who is three minutes older.
“Mom didn’t know she had twins until about a week before she delivered us,” they say, revealing that their mother wasn’t thrilled when the doctor told her that she had two “peanuts” hiding in there, so the girls were apparently playing little tricks even before they entered the world.
Nicknamed Lor-Lor and Lee-Lee, they giggle, “We’ve always been called the ‘twin’kies,’ or the Hagedon Twins,” as they pass a can of seltzer water back and forth, and the undeniable bond of sharing everything from in utero to the present is evident.
Of their early childhood, Lori claims, “Sometimes, when I look at the old photos, I can’t even tell us apart.” Lisa adds, “We were best friends and inseparable growing up. It’s nice being a twin because you always have a best friend. We always have each other, no matter where we’re at in the world.” Lori points out that they still call each other constantly. “I’ve always had a lot of fun being a twin. There’s always someone to share my thoughts with, do things with, cry with, and to have as a confidante.”
The twins were raised in Mt. Shasta, a small town in northern California where, like Crested Butte, everybody knows everybody. Their mom is a cosmetologist and their father is an all-American mechanic and auto body repairman. “We camped, fished, took family trips, and although we grew up with not a lot of money, our parents were hard workers and they gave us anything we needed. We weren’t materialistic and we’re still not,” Lori notes.
The twins competed together in gymnastics and track, took ballet, were the only girls on the boys’ little league team, and played basketball in high school. “There’s nothing I would change in my childhood,” Lori says with warm assuredness as Lisa nods simultaneously in agreement.
The girls graduated from high school in 1987 and painfully went in separate directions. Lisa went into the U.S. Air Force, traveling around the world, and Lori followed in her mother’s cosmetology career, moving to Maui. Lisa traveled with the Air Force for five years doing administration and raising her two boys, Tyler and Trever, before deciding to attend nursing school in Oklahoma. She worked as a nurse for a decade before arriving in Crested Butte in 1999 and worked as a nurse at the Gunnison Hospital until 2004, when she realized her calling was in labor and delivery.
Lisa decided to return to school to get her master’s degree as an advanced practice nurse/certified nurse midwife at Colorado Health Sciences in Denver, commuting from Crested Butte every week. When she graduated in 2004, Lisa moved to Glenwood Springs for a stint at Valley View Hospital, delivering more than 2,500 babies. She eventually opened her own practice but found she was working far too much to enjoy life.
“I was really busy and stressed out. My life was not balanced, and I needed more balance between life and work… and I missed my sister,” Lisa confesses. “I missed my family and I missed the mountains of Crested Butte. I needed to slow down; I was a workaholic on-call for 24/7. I made a life decision and a change and moved back to Crested Butte.” Lisa opened Sopris Women’s Clinic in April 2014. “It’s a relaxing climate and I love my practice. I have so much more time to dedicate to my patients. It makes me feel whole again,” she says of the hour-long sessions she’s now able to devote to patients.
Meanwhile, living the Maui island life for 12 years, Lori was raising two young daughters, Tiffany and Laurissa, as a single mom and running her salon.
She also earned her real estate license and worked for Coldwell Banker. As paradisiacal as it was, Maui started to feel much too far away from her family so she moved to Castle Rock, Colo., working at a salon there for a year and a half.
“I moved to Crested Butte in 2002 to join my sister. My girls graduated from Gunnison High School. Then I met Ian Mason in 2004, and we were married in 2012,” Lori says. In addition to running her salon, Bella Voi, which is two doors down the hall from Lisa’s practice above the Alpineer, Lori has a cleaning and property management company.
The sisters drop by each other’s office on breaks throughout the day, taking walks and having lunch together. One evening Lori took Lisa to a murder mystery dinner, where she met Paul Merck. The electricity between them was instantaneous and the couple married in August 2014. Lori laughs that people were seeing Paul and Lisa out and about in broad daylight together and thought it was Lori having a blatant affair.
Ian and Lori have an adopted two and a half year old son, Nash, who Lisa not only delivered but also arranged the designated adoption, meaning the birth mother chose Lori and Ian to be the parents. At their young age, they’re already grandmothers—Lori has four grandkids and Lisa has one.
“Our mom instilled in us to be independent, self-sufficient women, making sure we had some sort of career so we didn’t have to rely on anyone to take care of us,” they both agree. “One thing our dad ingrained into us is being diverse, to dress up like a lady but also get down and dirty and have the best of both worlds. The outdoor life was instilled in us since we were little.”
Both women ski, hike, camp, snowmobile, ride dirt bikes, love motorized sports, go fishing, and hunt elk and deer. “We’ve always been drawn to the mountains. It was the way we were raised as kids with our family, cross country skiing and summer camping for weeks at a time. Once you’ve been raised around the mountains, you’re drawn to the beauty and being outdoors,” they respond in sequence before smiling and offering, “It’s just all about the mountain life and the beauty of Crested Butte.”

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