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.
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.”
Donna Lynne officially became Colorado’s 49th lieutenant governor after she took the oath of office at the state Capitol in front of friends, family and a whole lot of political folks.
Lynne told Gov. John Hickenlooper during the ceremony on Thursday it was a good thing he didn’t choose her as his running mate when he first ran for governor in 2010 because her maiden name was Schleinkofer. The idea of a Hickenlooper-Schleinkofer ticket got a laugh during the light-hearted ceremony.
Hickenlooper picked Joe Garcia, the president of Colorado State University-Pueblo, to run with him on the Democratic ticket, and the pair was re-elected in 2014. Garcia announced last fall he was returning to education, and Hickenlooper in March announced Lynne would succeed Garcia.