The Fightin’ Granny fights no more

Rep. Gwyn Green, D-Golden, and William Kane, 10, of Lakewood, during a news conference at the state Capitol in 2008. William had urged the lawmaker to pursue a resolution making skiing and snowboarding the official winter sports of Colorado. Green died Wednesday at the age of 79. (George Kochaniec Jr./Rocky Mountain News/ Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library)

“The Fightin’ Granny,” as former Rep. Gwyn Green was known, has died, unleashing a string of memories of the lawmaker, whose first victory in 2004 was so close it led to a recount.

She campaigned in a 1954 Chevy pickup that belonged to a fellow Jefferson County Democrat, Max Tyler, who succeeded Green when she resigned effective June 1, 2009, citing health concerns and a desire to spend more time with her grandchildren.

Ian Silverii, now the executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, credits Rep. Gwyn Green for his deep involvement in Colorado Democratic politics. (Silverri FB photo)

Among those who paid tribute to Green after news of her death spread was Ian Silverii, now the executive director of ProgressNow Colorado.

He wrote on his Facebook page how in 2007 he packed everything he owned in his grandfather’s 2001 Dodge Intrepid and drove from New Jersey to Colorado, where he managed his first state House campaign, for Green.

“Gwyn taught me everything about being progressive, having integrity, fighting the good fight and never letting up,” he wrote in part.

“I’ll never forget her infectious laugh, her tireless work ethic, and her short temper for injustice. Gwyn Green earned her nickname, ‘The Fightin’ Granny’ and she’s the one who taught me how to fight for what’s right.

“Rest in peace friend, I wouldn’t have this life without your mentorship and your trust in me. The world lost a warrior, and Colorado lost a legend.”

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Polly Baca, the legendary Latina

Sitting on the side of the Colorado House before it convened Wednesday morning are former lawmaker Polly Baca and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who are involved in a lawsuit over the electoral process. With them are former House Speaker Ruben Valdez and Teresa Duran, mother of the current speaker, Crisanta Duran of Denver. The speaker said her mother is “as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.” (SOS photo)

Former lawmaker Polly Baca, a legend in state and national Democratic politics, delivered the prayer in the Colorado House on opening day Wednesday, 40 years after she began her fourth and final year in the House.

Baca took a break from writing her memoirs to stop by the House chambers. Some of what will be in her book:

She served as the national director for Viva Kennedy in 1968, and was at the California hotel with Bobby Kennedy when the presidential candidate was assassinated.

While serving as the special assistant to the DNC chair she often worked really late. One night in May 1972 she thought she heard something but  didn’t see anyone in the hallway when she checked. She left about 3:30 a.m. and learned later that morning someone had broken into the Watergate.

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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.

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