The Colorado Secretary of State employee bikes to work on most summer days. On July 28, as he was pedaling westbound in the bike lane on East 23rd Avenue, a white SUV turning from 23rd on to Colorado Boulevard made a left-hand turn and plowed into Lang, who went flying and was knocked unconscious.
When Lang regained consciousness, the 37-year-old was in the emergency room at Denver Health Medical Center. He sustained multiple injuries, including a displaced and broken finger, a severely dislocated and broken elbow, two broken wrists, and a hairline fracture in one of his knees. He underwent surgery and spent 2½-days in the hospital.
“I feel very fortunate that my brain is in one piece and that I’m alive,” Lang said.
The impact was so strong it cracked his helmet in half but doctors expect him to make a full recovery.
Howard Gelt, the kid who got kicked out of military school and continued a rebellious streak for years, left his mark on Colorado in a number of ways, from politics to transportation to the arts.
A pioneer for women’s rights, he helped found the Colorado NARAL chapter.
At 6-foot-5, he appeared like a giant when he crashed an IOC meeting in Japan in 1972 to let members know Colorado wasn’t that excited about hosting the Olympics.
He once faked a southern drawl to get an environmental bill through the North Carolina legislature.
Gelt died Friday after battling with esophageal cancer. Gelt was 73, although he always let out his trademark big grin when people commented he looked younger.
“He had such a will to live. He had so much grit,” his son, 35-year-old Ben Gelt, said Saturday. “He was a character and just a great guy.”
The family is holding a private funeral Wednesday, but will later announce a public memorial service for Gelt, who was chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party in the early 1990s. Before that, he was key to Dick Lamm and Roy Roy Romer’s elections for governor.
Gelt and his wife, Sandy Vanghagen Gelt, had just celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary on June 1.
His death comes the same week as Republican Bill Armstrong, a former U.S. senator from Colorado. “An era is coming to an end,” said Mary Alice Mandarich, a lobbyist who visited Gelt in the hospital last week.
The thing about Gelt, she said, is he had an enormous impact on Colorado but in a behind-the-scenes, give-someone-else-the-credit way.
That sentiment was echoed by Gelt’s former wife, Susan Barnes-Gelt, who served on the Denver City Council.
“Howard’s impact on the civic and political life of this city was as big as the great outdoors,” she said. “It was entirely unsung, but he was such a force.”
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams wowed them at the Greeley Centennial Rotary club meeting — and that’s according to the guy who use to have “fun arguments” with Williams over transportation.
Greeley Mayor Tom Norton invited Williams to speak at the club’s meeting last Thursday.
Norton ran the Colorado Department of Transportation under former Gov. Bill Owens. Williams got plenty of transportation experience during his two terms as an El Paso County commissioner. He served on the Colorado State Transportation Advisory Committee, and chaired the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority.
“I joke I was head of CDOT as a punishment from Bill Owens,” Norton said at the Rotary meeting. The two served together in the state Senate, where Norton was Senate president.
As for Williams, Norton said, “We’ve had some fun arguments over transportation.”
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ name is linked with elections but the Colorado Springs Republican’s expertise also includes transportation, which is obvious when he’s out and about.
At the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Blue Ribbon Reception Wednesday night, Williams reminisced with Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, a Steamboat Springs Democrat. They were county commissioners when they served together on the Colorado State Transportation Advisory Committee. The same happened at a recent breakfast meeting with county clerks when Williams ran into Tim Harris, the former chief engineer for the Colorado Department of Transportation.
“A fun thing about being SOS,” Williams said, “is I get to drive on a lot of the roads that I helped to get funding for.”
His knowledge on transportation came in handy Thursday when Gov. John Hickenlooper addressed the issue during his State of the State speech.