Honoring “The Lady of the House”

Former Sen. Dottie Wham, former Capitol staffer Mary Sharon Wells, Sen. Pat Steadman and lobbyist Charlie Hebler at the memorial tribute for Lee Bahrych, former chief clerk of the House, Tuesday at the Colorado State Capitol. (SOS photo)
Former Sen. Dottie Wham, former Capitol staffer Mary Sharon Wells, Sen. Pat Steadman and lobbyist Charlie Hebler at the memorial tribute Tuesday at the Colorado State Capitol for Lee Bahrych, former chief clerk of the House. (SOS photo)

Lawmakers past and present showed up Tuesday to pay tribute to Lee Bahrych, the former chief clerk of the state House who loved the Capitol as much as she despised the pranks rowdy lawmakers were prone to pull.

Former staffer Donna Acierno recalled how Bahrych once got so annoyed with Rep. Scott McInnis she grabbed the lawmaker’s ear and made him sit down in his seat.

“That was before Scott was in leadership,” Acierno said, with a laugh.

Chief Clerk Marilyn Eddins and former Rep. Jeff Shoemaker at a tribute Tuesday for the late Lee Bahrych. (SOS photo)
Chief Clerk Marilyn Eddins and former Rep. Jeff Shoemaker at a tribute Tuesday for the late Lee Bahrych, former chief clerk of the House. (SOS photo)

McInnis, who went on to become the House majority leader, a congressman and now a Mesa County commissioner, was present at Bahrych’s tribute in the old Supreme Court chambers at the Capitol. Afterward, guests were invited to have strawberries and pound cake — in honor of Bahrych’s tradition of serving strawberries to her staffers once the session ended.

Bahrych, who died in April at the age of 90, had worked at the Capitol from 1970 to 1994.

“I thought it was a beautiful tribute to a great lady,” said the current chief clerk, Marilyn Eddins. “Lee was there when I was interviewed and hired in 1982. I had not been employed in 16 years and was very nervous. She put me at ease and I have never forgotten her kind words and encouragement. That encouragement never stopped.”

Eddins became emotional when talking about Bahrych.

Former House majority leaders Chris Paulson, left and Scott McInnis, right, flank McInnis' wife, Lori, during a tribute Tuesday at Capitol for former chief clerk Lee Bahrych. (SOS photo)
Former House majority leaders Chris Paulson, left and Scott McInnis, right, flank McInnis’ wife, Lori, during a tribute Tuesday at Capitol for former chief clerk Lee Bahrych. (SOS photo)

So did former Rep. Jeff Schoemaker, who delivered the eulogy. Other former lawmakers who attended the event included Sens. Dottie Wham and Norma Anderson, who once served in the House, and former Reps. Paul Schauer, Jeanne Faatz, Bob Kirscht, Chris Paulson and Doug Dean.

“I thought it was lovely,” said Faatz, who later served on the Denver City Council. “It was so nice to see so many staffers and legislators from back then. We were a close-knit bunch and I was just thrilled to see them.”

The program for Lee Bahrych's memorial Tuesday.
The program for Lee Bahrych’s tribute.

Bahrych’s three daughters and other family members as well as current and former Capitol staffers also were at the tribute.

“I was surprised we had so many people who came and that they still had such strong feelings for Mom,” said her daughter, Teri Bahrych. “She retired more than 20 years ago, but all these people still remembered her and held her in high regard.

“I thought it was wonderful.”

More pictures of the event are posted on Lynn Bartels’ Facebook page.