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By Dr. Bob Beltz – Pastor Highline Community Church
As the Christian community in Denver prepared to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it was stunned by the unexpected loss of one of its greatest leaders. On March 23, Dr. Jim Dixon went on a bicycle ride in Palm Springs, California, and did not return home. His death was a shock to all who heard, and along with losing a great leader, many of us lost a great friend.
I met Jim when I was 25 years old and he was 29. He had travelled to Kansas City to perform the wedding ceremony of an old college friend of mine who had moved to Denver and was attending Faith Presbyterian Church where Jim served as an associate pastor. I was preparing to move to Denver to begin studies at Denver Seminary and Jim invited me to connect with him when I reached town. I don’t think either of us could have imagined that our meeting would lead to a partnership that would last for over twenty years, and a friendship that lasted for over forty.
Jim had come to Faith Presbyterian from Southern California where he had grown up and attended and graduated from Westmont College and Fuller Theological Seminary. Jim was an outstanding athlete in track and field at Westmont and semi-professionally with the Southern California Striders during his time at Fuller. While at Fuller Jim met and married the love of his life, Barbara Batts. Their love for each other and the kind of marriage they modeled through the years will be one of his lasting legacies to those of us who knew him and loved him. Our hearts go out to Barb in the great loss she and the family have experienced.
Jim had been hired by Dean Wolf, the senior pastor at Faith at the time, to be the director of Christian Education. In that role, Jim only preached a few times a year. But when he did, it was obvious that he had a unique gift of communicating the story of Jesus in ways that people could connect with. Like Jesus, he was a great storyteller and his messages were always filled with great illustrations. It was Dean who inspired Jim to begin to memorize the Bible and quote from memory each week’s chapter of the Bible upon which his messages were based. I’m sure Dean hoped Jim would be the heir to the senior pastor position at Faith, but that was not to be.
In the summer of 1981, Jim joined Bo Mitchell and myself to begin working to launch a new kind of church in the Denver area. We wanted to start a church for people who didn’t like church. Jim was the perfect man to lead the charge. On March 4, 1982, Cherry Hills Community Church opened its doors in a little church building on Orchard Road. Unlike most church “plants” (the technical church jargon) Jim’s reputation had preceded him and the church was filled on the first Sunday. Never expecting or desiring the church to become as large as Faith Presbyterian had been, no one was more surprised than Jim when church attendance exploded. I think only Bo Mitchell saw the writing on the wall, because before the ink was hardly dry on the purchase contract on the Orchard Road building, Bo had already begun negotiations with Cherry Hills Village to acquire the abandoned Village Heights Elementary School on Colorado Blvd. south of Hampden. In September of 1985, construction was completed on a sanctuary that was added to the old school building and the church moved to its new facility. Within a year, the church grew from the seven hundred fifty members that made the move to over two thousand in attendance. It became one of the fastest growing churches in America, due largely to the amazing communication skills and great personality Jim possessed.
Over the next decade the church would thrive and Jim would become a nationally admired and respected leader. Outgrowing the Colorado Boulevard location, the church would relocate to its present Highlands Ranch location in 1995. Jim would continue to lead the ministry until his retirement last year,
At the Sunday service following Jim’s death, his successor Shane Farmer described Jim as the most humble man he had ever met. I would agree. Having known many mega-church pastors, Jim was one of a kind. He never let the success of Cherry Hills go to his head. He never thought it even had much to do with him. He
sincerely believed he was only a servant and vessel that Christ used to build a great ministry. As a result, God was able to use him to bless and enrich the lives of the thousands of men and women who benefitted from his servant’s heart. The tributes that have been paid to him across the Internet are well deserved. Many that barely knew him personally have expressed the impact he had on their lives and how much they loved him.
The Bible tells us that for the man or woman who belongs to Jesus, death is not to be feared. The Apostle Paul wrote that “to be absent from the body (referring to physical death) is to be present with the Lord.” Paul himself, in his letter to the church in Philippi wrote that he actually longed to “depart and be with Christ”. But he noted that it was more important for the Philippians that he kept living. As much as Jim loved Jesus, I believe that if he had the choice, Jim would not have chosen to “depart” when he did. He would have wanted to “remain” for the sake of Barb, his children Heather and Drew, his grandchildren, and the whole extended family. But God had other plans. Not to make light of the tremendous loss his earthly death is to those of us left behind, I have had an image in my mind almost from the moment I heard the sad news. It is of Jim riding down the street on his bicycle enjoying the moment. Suddenly, there is Jesus! It might have taken him a moment to realize what had happened. Jim loved thinking about and teaching about the second coming of Christ. He knew that the Bible prophesied that one generation of true believers would not experience physical death but be caught up to be with Christ in the event theologians call the Rapture. I know Jim hoped our generation would be that generation. In a sense, on March 23, Jim had his own personal rapture. He left his earth-suit behind and entered into the presence of Christ. I have no doubt that the words that he heard from the One he loved and who loved him above all others was, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” We will miss him. But we hold fast to the “blessed hope” that we will all be together again…soon!
Services will be held Saturday, April 7, at 10:30 a.m., at Cherry Hills Community Church.
Harry Charles Hall was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He grew up poor but resourceful in Brooklyn, New York.
Harry earned a scholarship to a Catholic high school, joined the Navy and then went to Manhattan College on the GI bill. While a student he worked as a soda jerk to support himself and at the counter he met his to-be-wife Pauline Greeley, who had moved to the Big City from White Plains. They married in August 1951 with the first of their six children – Candice, Susan, Melinda, Stacy, Tracy, and Troy – arriving the next year.
Harry, ever hard working, pursued a personal career with a succession of multi-national firms, moving his growing family from New York, to Indonesia, to California, to Belgium, to Rhode Island and finally to New Jersey. After he and Pauline retired to Denver, Harry served as a president of Trout Unlimited, as a Roxborough Park ranger and as a board member on The Preserve homeowners association, he built trails, taught driving safety classes, and helped Pauline with her doll shop. They traveled widely, visiting the world, even Patagonia for fishing, and their dozen grandchildren – Jef. Thea, Trore, David, Kyle, Breda, Charlotte, Amy, Dana, Martin, Maja and Patrick – until Pauline’s death in 2009.
Greenwood Village formally declared a Harry Hall Day in thanks for his civic engagement. He taught safe driving classes at Greenwood for 10 years.
Harry married Sue Shulman, now Sue M. Hall, originally from Missouri, in February 2012. They moved to Holly Creek. Harry cared very much about his family, friends, and those he met in his travels. His children and grandchildren are honored by the legacy of his 88 years well lived.
Harry’s life will be celebrated on April 2 at 2 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of Holly Creek Christian Living Community.
Funeral services for former Greenwood Village Mayor Harold W. Patton, Jr. will be held Friday, March 18 at 11 a.m. at Cherry Hills Community Church Memorial Chapel with a reception to follow. Patton died Feb. 28 at the age of 84. He served as mayor of Greenwood Village from 1969-1977. Patton’s obituary was in the March 3 edition of The Villager.
Colorado lost a truly remarkable woman in Diane Hoppe who died on Feb. 27. A native of Colorado and raised in Sterling, Hoppe spent almost 30 years in both the public and private sectors stewarding Colorado’s natural and agricultural resources.
“Representative Hoppe’s contribution to the State of Colorado was substantial and the loss of her leadership and friendship will be felt by many statewide,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Hoppe served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 1999 through 2006 and chaired the House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee, the Water Interim Committee, and the Water Resources Review Committee, and served as Minority Whip. She was a founding member of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education and served as President from 2002 through 2007. Governor John Hickenlooper appointed Diane to the Colorado Water Conservation Board as the South Platte Basin representative in 2012, and she was elected chair of the Board in 2015. Diane received many honors during her lifetime including the Colorado Water Congress 2013 Wayne N. Aspinall Award for Outstanding Water Leader.
Diane Hoppe’s spirit will forever be remembered and will serve as an inspiration to the many lives she touched.
Services for Diane will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 12, at Holy Comfortor Episcopal Church in Broomfield.
“A great leader for challenging times. Graceful in times of stress. Generous with her wisdom at all times. Her enduring legacy, leadership by example,” said Justice Greg Hobbs.
By Jan Wondra
Former Greenwood Village Mayor Harold W. Patton, Jr. died Feb. 28. Born in 1931, the Colorado native was 85. He was mayor during one of the most formative times in the history of Greenwood Village, from 1969 to 1977.
“I had the distinct honor and pleasure of knowing Harold Patton personally, not withstanding the hiatus between our service as mayors,” said Greenwood Village Mayor Ron Rakowsky. “He was an extremely articulate person who had an engaging personality and maintained the ability to relate til lthe very end of his life.”
Patton grew up to become an Air Force pilot and moved to Greenwood Village in 1964. He served on the Colorado Aeronautical Board and was involved in the Arapahoe County Airport, which became today’s Centennial Airport.
Prior to 1967, Greenwood Village was predominately a residential area, with homes, farms and open space. Patton was elected to the City Council in 1965, just as the city was turning from rural to suburban. George Wallace, whose purchase of 40 acres at the edge of Denver had turned him into a developer, approached then- Mayor John Wood about annexing what he had begun to call the Denver Technological Center in to Greenwood Village. When Patton became mayor in 1969, he oversaw the transition from a city government based on residential property tax to a tax base built on commercial business to cover the cost of road maintenance, police protection and other services. Annexations also gave Greenwood Village the ability to control zoning in areas near existing neighborhoods.
The nearly decade-long expansion of Greenwood Village led by Patton created the outlines of the city today.
Patton himself defined it this way: “My council was made up entirely of business people, who were very bright. They knew that homes do not pay for themselves. The city needed a larger tax base.”
The 1975 annexation of land in the DTC and Greenwood Plaza, as well as land toward the east, blocked Denver’s attempted moves to the south and east, protecting the tax base for Cherry Creek Schools.
These moves (by Denver) “would leave Cherry Creek Schools standing empty with people paying for bonds,” said Patton.
The 1970s were known in Greenwood Village as an era of good government. Not only did Greenwood Village withdraw from the recreation district and create its own Parks Trails and Recreation, it began to focus on public spaces and art. In 1978, Greenwood Village government got a new home, building a two-structure complex at 6060 S. Quebec St.
Shirley Anne Smith died Feb. 11. She is survived by her husband of 61 years, Gerald Smith and her three children, Nathan Smith, Matthew Smith, Anne Smith and five grandchildren.
She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Utah, major in English, minor in art. She was an award-winning, experienced, creative editor and journalist. Skills also included writing, community relations and public speaking.
She was a reporter and editor for the South Suburban Sentinel newspaper, Littleton Sentinel Independent newspaper, Get up and Go magazine (formerly Beacon Review newspaper) and The Villager newspaper.
She was a Pulitzer Prize nominee in 1987, received two National Mature Media Awards, awards from the Colorado Press Association, the Colorado Society of Professional Journalist, National Federation of Press Women and Colorado Press Women state sweepstakes winner.
She won more than 30 awards from Colorado Press Women, including first place honors in feature, interview, news, play review, book review, editorials, columns and special supplements.
In the community she was on the Volunteers of America Centennial committee, National Press Foundation, AARP Fellowship in Washington D.C., board member of Denver Women’s Press Club and Salute to Seniors event.
She lived in Littleton for 50 years.
A memorial service will be held Friday, Feb. 26, at 10 a.m., at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 1401 E. Dry Creek Road, Centennial.
Sheldon Roger of Cherry Hills Village died Feb. 20. He was born June 15, 1929, to Sarah and Abraham Roger in Gary, Indiana, the second of three children.
He graduated from Indiana University on June 12, 1950, with an undergraduate degree in anatomy and physiology and was a member of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity.
He earned his Doctorate in Medicine from Indiana University on his 24th birthday, June 15, 1953, and completed an internship and residency in surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC in 1955.
He served as a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Core from 1955 – 1957 with the majority of that time spent at Fort Lewis base in Tacoma, Washington
He moved to Colorado and completed his orthopedic residency at the University of Colorado Medical School in 1960 with orthopedic practice at Rose Medical Center, VA hospital doctor and volunteer for more than 50 years serving as Chief of Orthopedics for a short period of time for the VA in 1997-1998
He was the team orthopedic physician for the Denver Nuggets (his dream job) for 12 years.
He was an associate clinical professor of medicine in the department of orthopedics at the University of Colorado Medical School. He was dearly beloved by all of his patients and colleagues.
Skiing with family and friends was one of his greatest joys. Golf was his real passion. He belonged to Green Gables for many years and was an accomplished golfer. Shelly competed and won numerous tournaments while a member there.
Shelly played the violin and the piano. He started playing the piano at age 5. To earn money in high school he played the piano for ballet classes. Played in his high school orchestra and was concertmaster.
During the last three years of his life, with his own memory issues, he would go to retirement homes and play the old classics once a week for memory care patients. This brought him great joy and purpose. When asked why he did this, he said he felt he needed to give something of joy to those who could not get it for themselves.
Music was truly one of Shelly’s lifelong passions. He loved sharing that passion with his friends and dinner parties and with his grandchildren whenever they came to the house.
He loved the opera and loved classical music.
He was an avid Denver Broncos fan and season ticket holder since their inaugural season in 1960.
Contributions in Shelly’s memory can be made to The Denver Hospice or Alzheimer’s Association of the Rocky Mountains.
He was so very proud of his family, his children their successes and what great parents they all are to their own children. Sheldon is survived by the love of his life, Carol; children, David Roger, Stephen (Juliet) Roger and Dr. Jeffrey (Dr. JoAnna) Roger, Stephanie Kingdom (Dr. Todd) , David (Molly) Rudnick and brother Dr. Burton (Alfie) Roger.
He is also survived by his nine grandchildren: Jack and Andrew Roger, Ben and Nathan Kingdom, Annie, Emily and Samantha Rudnick and Julian and Lauren Roger. Also the family dogs: Snej, Bob, Georgia and Peyton.
Services were held Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. at Hebrew Educational Alliance, 3600 S. Ivanhoe St. in Denver.
Save the Caucus has been registered as a Colorado political committee. John Wren announced the new Save the Caucus effort on a video that can be seen on www.JohnWren.com and on YouTube and Google+ Hangouts.
“The Caucus killers are coming,” said Wren in the video. “Any one who is not against the Colorado Caucus is for us. Legislators and party leaders who have been entrusted with this wonderful grassroots system will very likely face a recall if try to kill it.
“Attend one of your neighborhood’s March 1 Colorado caucuses. If you were affiliated by the deadline you can vote, otherwise attend to just observe and report what you see. Community newspapers are urged to ask their readers to file reports as citizen journalists. $5,000 is being raised to create a contest for Citizen Journalism and/or Reporting on the Colorado Caucus with the Colorado Press Association.”
The original Save the Caucus was formed by Wren, Frank Sullivan, Bill Armstrong and others in 2002 to fight Amendment 29, which would have killed the grassroots system. Despite being outspent 1400 to 1 the committee was able to defeat Amendment 29, 60 percent – 40 percent.
Wren’s neighbor was Lyle Lindesmith, who for years lead a program called Action Class in Practical Politics that taught hundreds of Colorado citizens how to run for elected public office or to help get other good people elected. Wren helped Lindesmith with what is believed to be the last session. It was held in the old Petroleum Club Building, and was attended by someone with no political experience who is now a well known Denver political figure who served in many capacities and been elected repeatedly at the local and state level until recent retirement.
For more information and to volunteer contribute money, call 303-861-1447.
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