Five Colorado governors offer up some advice

Secretary of State Wayne Williams with former Gov. Roy Romer, his wife Bea and their son Tom.

What a treat to visit with all five of Colorado’s living governors, who participated Thursday morning in a policy discussion on partisan politics.

They talked about their individual legacies and also offered advice to President Trump, according to The Denver Post’s Jesse Paul.

The governors: Dick Lamm, who was first elected in 1974, Roy Romer, Bill Owens, Bill Ritter and the current occupant, John Hickenlooper, who is term limited after next year.

As a reporter, I covered Owens, Ritter and Hickenlooper. I never covered Lamm or Romer but I interviewed them countless times over the years.

And while at the Rocky Mountain News, I was assigned to write Lamm’s and Romer’s obituaries and have them ready to go, you know, just in case. Yes, awkward, but Lamm was very gracious when I explained why I was interviewing him. My lede: “Dick Lamm did his duty today.”

Lamm and Romer outlived the Rocky, which died in 2009.

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Journalist Peter Blake, 1936-2016: The end of an era

Journalist Peter Blake has died at the age of 80. (Rocky Mountain News/Ellen Jaskol/Denver Public Library)
Journalist Peter Blake has died at the age of 80. (Rocky Mountain News/Ellen Jaskol/Denver Public Library)

When former Rocky Mountain News reporter Peter Blake got up on his roof in mid-October to take care of the air conditioner, his wife Sandy scolded him.

“Peter, you’re 80,” she said. “You shouldn’t be walking around the roof.”

He told her he was fine, but unbeknownst to Blake, he wasn’t. He had no trouble with the roof, but by Oct. 19 he couldn’t throw a baseball and his speech was slurred. He checked himself into a hospital on Oct. 20, where he was diagnosed with a fast-moving brain tumor.

“We were in Palo Alto at the CU-Stanford game and he didn’t even tell us until the game was over because he wanted us to enjoy it,” Sandy said, recalling the visit with her son.

Peter Blake, an avid baseball fan, political insider and smokejumper, died at Denver Hospice on Wednesday. He is survived by his wife, two sons, other family members and a legion of admirers who admired the plain-spoken and tough but fair  journalist.

“Peter was a ‘high-alert’ guy,” said former Gov. Dick Lamm, noting that when his press secretary said Blake wanted an interview “you knew something was up.”

“He was always respectful, but you knew it was not going to be an easy interview. He would dig in places and come up with questions and you needed to be prepared.”

Services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 1401 E. Dry Creek Road. A reception will be held afterward at the church.

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Howard Gelt, 1943-2016: The go-to guy, the unsung force

Howard Gelt, in this family photo, circa 1988, died Friday after decades of making his mark on Denver and Colorado.
Howard Gelt, in this family photo, circa 1988, died Friday after decades of making a difference in Denver.

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.”

Read moreHoward Gelt, 1943-2016: The go-to guy, the unsung force