A good sendoff for a good man

Peter Blake's passions were on display at the reception after his funeral, including his life as a newspaperman -- and a darned good one.
Peter Blake’s passions were on display at the reception after his funeral, including his life as a newspaperman — and a darned good one.

I didn’t know that the late journalist Peter Blake’s middle name was Carson until his funeral Saturday, but how appropriate because it made me think of a quote from Carson the butler on Downton Abbey: “The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end that’s all there is.”

At a reception after the funeral, a room was filled with mementos of Blake’s life: journalism awards, family photos, a pennant from his beloved Philadelphia Phillies and plenty of baseball memorabilia.

Blake died Dec. 7 after being diagnosed in October with a fast-moving tumor. Up until that point, the 80-year-old was still working as a journalist and breaking stories.

When news broke of Blake’s death, a number of his former colleagues at the Rocky Mountain News remarked, “Pete was 80?” He was an ageless kind of guy.

Read moreA good sendoff for a good man

Kathy Packer packs it up after spending 31 years at Colorado Secretary of State

Colorado Secretary of State employee Kathy Packer retired today after more than 30 years working for the office. From left to right, Deputy IT director Jeff Oliver, IT director Trevor Timmons, Packer and Secretary Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State employee Kathy Packer retired today after more than 30 years working for the office. From left to right, Deputy IT director Jeff Oliver, IT director Trevor Timmons, Packer and Secretary Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

By Julia Sunny and Lynn Bartels

When Kathy Packer started working at the age of 18, Dick Lamm was governor of Colorado, Federico Peña was mayor of Denver and Secretary of State Natalie Meyer was her boss.

Kathy Packer, who turns 50 next month, has worked for the Colorado Secretary of State's office since she was 18. She is retiring effective today. (SOS picture)
Kathy Packer, who turns 50 next month, has worked for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office since she was 18.

“Natalie was a very classy, professional lady, always very poised and put together,” Packer recalled.

Packer would go on to work for seven more secretaries of state, including the current officeholder, Wayne Williams, before deciding to call it quits.

Her last day was today, June 30. Her co-workers held a party to celebrate her 31½-year-career in state government, all at the Secretary of State’s office.

“She’s a people person, which means she has a customer-centric approach,” said Trevor Timmons, the director of information technology, where Packer has worked in recent years. “She is awesome.”

Read moreKathy Packer packs it up after spending 31 years at Colorado Secretary of State

A treasure: newspaper clips and more at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office

A small sampling of the newspaper clips regarding former Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan's "furniture caper." (SOS photo)
A sampling of newspaper articles regarding former Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan’s “furniture caper” after she left office. (SOS photo)

News clippings from former Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan’s “furniture caper.” Scrapbooks from her successor, Natalie Meyer. And an unforgettable feature on Colorado tax zealot Douglas Bruce.

My new intern, Colorado State University student Julia Sunny, and I discovered a treasure trove of items Tuesday when cleaning out my office for a painting-carpeting project this weekend at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. I was told that my predecessor, Rich Coolidge, took two days cleaning out the office when he left last year, but there was still plenty of stuff in the drawers for me to sort through and admire.

Douglas Bruce in 1993 hugs his big ball of string. The photograph accompanied a story on the crotchety architect of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

As someone who spent 35 years working for  newspapers before becoming the spokeswoman for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams last August, I love newspaper clips. Yes, they take up space, but they’re so much fun to pore over.

The 1993 feature on Bruce was written after voters the year before passed his Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. I’ve posted the piece several times in later years after Bruce made news, kicking a photographer on the floor of the Colorado House and a conviction on tax evasion.

But to see the story in print was something else. In the article, Bruce called the then secretary of state a “crook,” the executive branch of state government “pimps,” the state legislature “prostitutes” and anybody else opposed to TABOR as “drones.”

Read moreA treasure: newspaper clips and more at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office