Denver Press Club Hall of Fame adds five new inductees

It’s one thing to be inducted into the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame. It’s another to be part of a class of amazing individuals, whose résumés are beyond impressive.

Denver Press Club Hall of Fame 2015
Denver Press Club Hall of Fame 2015

The other members of the 2015 Denver Press Club Hall of Fame who were inducted on Friday night were famed Final Four photographer Rich Clarkson; Mary Chandler, the architecture critic for the late, great Rocky Mountain News; Mike Keefe, a Pulitzer-prize winning cartoonist formerly of The Denver Post; and, posthumously, Damon Runyon, an early member of the Denver Press Club who is best known for moving to New York and writing “Guys and Dolls.”

(Click on the links, folks, for great reads on these people.)

Back in February, when the inductees were announced, I asked former state GOP chairman Dick Wadhams and columnist extraordinaire Mike Littwin to do the honors of introducing me during the banquet. Littwin is in Austin with a new grandson so Wadhams handled the job by himself.  It was a trip down memory lane as he mentioned previous Capitol reporters, including John Sanko, Fred Brown and Charlie Roos.

What an honor to be seated next to Dan Haley, former opinion page editor of The Post who introduced Keefe, and looking out at a crowd that included the only and only Andrew Hudson, the spokesman for Denver Mayor Wellington Webb at one point in his own amazing career. Also present at the Press Club: U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, former CU Regent Tom Lucero, former House Speaker Frank McNulty, former House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, former City Attorney Dan Muse, Denver Post folks Joey Bunch and Dan Petty, Eric Bergman with Colorado Counties Inc. and my new boss, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Thanks, Dick, for your remarks:

Dick Wadhams and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and myself at the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame banquet Friday.
Dick Wadhams and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and myself at the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame banquet Friday.

A few weeks after the venerable Rocky Mountain News shut its doors forever in 2009, more than 600 people were attending a Colorado Republican dinner and newly minted Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels was there.  Noting the historic significance of losing one of our great daily newspapers, the state chairman requested Bartels, a legendary Rocky political reporter, to stand and be recognized as a representative of the late, great Rocky.

What followed was not just polite applause.  It was a loud and sustained standing ovation by hundreds of the most partisan Republicans in Colorado.   And it was as much for Lynn Bartels as it was for the Rocky.

Over the last forty years, I have had the honor and privilege of knowing and working with many of the greatest journalists in Colorado history who are now retired or no longer with us.  I think of Gene Amole, Charlie Roos, Peter Blake and John Sanko of the Rocky Mountain News.  And Fred Brown and Chuck Green of the Denver Post.  And Tom McAvoy of the Pueblo Chieftain.  And Carl Hilliard of the Associated Press.

The common thread with all these journalists, and many more, was their love of reporting on Colorado politics and their appreciation and respect for the imperfect men and women who they covered.

Former Denver City Attorney Dan Muse, Lynn Bartels and Denver Councilman Kevin Flynn, a former Rocky Mountain News staffer and a Hall of Famer. (Photo by CL Harmer)
Former Denver City Attorney Dan Muse, Lynn Bartels and Denver Councilman Kevin Flynn, a former Rocky Mountain News staffer and a Hall of Famer. (Photo by CL Harmer)

Lynn Bartels loves the sweeping drama of politics and campaigns.  But what makes her so unique is her own deep appreciation and respect for those who run for public office and the hundreds of individuals who help those candidates and elected officials.

And Lynn Bartels also knows that Colorado is much more than Denver, Boulder, Aspen and Vail as so many outside of our state believe and, unfortunately at times, those who now live here as well. Lynn knows the difference between the town of Moffat and Moffat County, between the town of Jefferson and Jefferson County, the town of Las Animas and Las Animas County, the town of Arapahoe and Arapahoe County.  She knows that Saguache County is not pronounced as “Sagahachee” or that Huerfano County is not “Hu-er-fano.”

But Lynn Bartels always had a special connection to the people who work on campaigns.  No matter how opportunistic, insincere, grandstanding, exploitive, elusive, paranoid, smug, caustic, arrogant or righteously indignant a campaign manager or spokesperson could be — and that was on a good day — she always remembered that these people were ultimately motivated by what Theodore Roosevelt called “the great devotions, the great enthusiasms of spending themselves in a worthy cause.”

And nothing manifested that respect for the people she covered than her chronicles of the great milestones of life of these individuals like weddings and births.  Many of us were deeply touched and can never forget the poignant obituaries she wrote about colleagues and family members.  She said the toughest obituary she ever wrote was for her own beloved father who was fiercely proud of his journalist daughter.

When Lynn’s induction into this Hall of Fame was announced several months ago, we did not know she would be leaving The Denver Post and journalism altogether.  But we now know who the smartest elected official is in the state, Secretary of State Wayne Williams who has hired Lynn as his communications director.

Lynn Bartels eminently deserves to be included in that roll of journalistic legends I mentioned earlier.  And my political colleagues, both Democratic and Republican, many of whom are here tonight, believe she is more than worthy of being inducted into the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame.

By the way Dick, it was former Rep. Carl Miller of Leadville who taught me how to pronounce Saguache County.

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