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Ralph Donald “Don” Johnson passed away, peacefully at home, on Sept. 1, at the age of 88.
He was born, the second child of Raymond and Helen Johnson, on January 19, 1928 in Denver and raised in the West Washington Park neighborhood. Don graduated from Denver’s South High School in 1946 and served in the United States Army from 1946 to 1948, serving primarily in Korea and also briefly in Shanghai, China in 1948. Don rose quickly to the rank of sergeant and served as a military policeman.
Upon return to the U.S. and honorable discharge from the Army, he utilized his GI Bill and attended the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Colorado and was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Don received his law degree from the University of Denver in 1953, and was admitted to the Colorado Bar. His law practice consisted largely of water rights and insurance defense. He subsequently joined the family business, Johnson Storage and Moving Co where he served as president and CEO for many years until his retirement in 1995. As the third generation to lead this family enterprise, he was very proud to have been an “over the road furniture moving” van driver. Don was known to his staff as a boss who knew how to do every job in the operation and who asked no one to do what he would not do himself.
He married Margaret “Marney” Hammond in 1950 and they had two sons, Mark and James “Jim”, both still Denver residents. The couple divorced in 1972.
Don was subsequently married to Katherine “Kathy” Piper who preceded him in death in 2001.
In 2005, Don married Arlene Mohler. The couple had a joyous life of travel, social engagement and charitable activities. Their love was an inspiration to all who were fortunate to share time with them. He took great pleasure in spending time with his expanded family which in addition to his two sons, included Scott (Becky), Seth (Annie) and Stan (Katie) Mohler and grandchildren.
Don was an active entrepreneur throughout his life. His ventures included the High Country Inn at Winter Park, cardboard distribution, home building, and commercial real estate development.
He served as a director of Union Bank and Trust, United Van Lines, the Colorado State Engineering Board and the Cherry Hills Zoning Appeals Board. He also served on the Boards of the American Moving and Storage Association and the Colorado Motor Carriers Association.
He was a member of Sertoma, Executive Club of Denver and Garden of the Gods Club. Don gave abundantly to many nonprofits including the Colorado Neurological Institute, Tau Kappa Epsilon Educational Foundation, Cancer League of Colorado, Central City Opera Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Children’s Diabetes Foundation, Denver Ballet, Inside the Orchestra, Bessie’s Hope, Marion Downs Foundation, TAPS and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Because of Don and Arlene’s total commitment to community, they were honored as “Pillars of the Community” by Arapahoe House, “Citizens of the Arts” by Fine Arts Foundation, “Community Champions” by Colorado Neurological Institute, “King and Queen of Hearts” by American Heart Association and “Lord and Lady” by Hospice of St. John.
Don was a skilled downhill skier and outdoorsman. In addition, he loved to spend time at the family ranch west of Colorado Springs.
He is survived by the love of his life, Arlene Mohler Johnson, five sons, 12 grandchildren, four nephews, numerous cousins, his former wife Marney and legions of dear friends. He was especially proud of his Cherry Hills Village home named “The Cedars” where Don and Arlene graciously entertained friends and opened their doors for countless charity events. Don served on the board of Sunset Country Homes.
He will be remembered for his devotion to family and friends, brilliant mind, varied and colorful history, generosity and wit.
A Celebration of Life is planned at Bethany Lutheran Church, 4500 E. Hampden Ave. in Cherry Hills Village on Sunday, October 9 at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, any tributes or memorials should be contributed to the charity of one’s choice in Don’s name.
Bill Armstrong – March 16, 1937 – July 5, 2016
Former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong, a resident of Cherry Hills Village and president of Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, lost his five-year battle with cancer on July 5, 2016. He was 79.
Armstrong, a onetime broadcaster and newspaper owner, was a major figure in the Colorado Republican Party who helped usher in the policies of President Reagan and a new generation of Republican leadership before entering yet another career in Christian education.
Armstrong was credited for bringing attention to the federal deficit during Reagan’s tenure. He was appointed by the president to the National Commission on Social Security Reform.
Armstrong had served as president of CCU since 2006. During his tenure, the school reached records in enrollment while raising ACT scores. He was at the helm of CCU as the American Council of Trustees repeatedly ranked the school in the top 2 percent of colleges nationally.
Armstrong was a long-time Colorado businessman who joined the university after owning and operating more than a dozen companies. He was chairman of Denver-based Oppenheimer Funds.
Born in Fremont, Neb. on March 16, 1937, Armstrong began working in radio after attending Tulane University in New Orleans and the University of Minnesota. He was a lieutenant in the Army National Guard.
At 23, Armstrong was elected to the Colorado State House of Representatives and served 1963-1964. He served in the state Senate (1965-1972), U.S. House of Representatives (1973-1978) and U S. Senate (1979-1990).
He was on the board of Christian Businessmen’s Committee USA and Campus Crusade for Christ.
Bill Armstrong served in the U.S. Senate 1974-1990.
Armstrong is survived by Ellen, his wife of 54 years, his daughter Annie, son Will, daughter-in law Kristy, eight grandchildren, four granddaughters-in-law and Tina, “the world’s greatest dog.”
Funeral service will be held at Cherry Hills Community Church, 3900 Grace Blvd. in Highlands Ranch on Friday, July 15 at 10:30 a.m. Visitation was scheduled for July 14 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Shari Williams, president of Leadership Program of the Rockies, says Armstrong changed the trajectory of her life and inspired what was taught in the program as a defender of capitalism who unabashedly celebrated innovation, competition, free markets and entrepreneurship.
Williams said Armstrong “had kindness, reasonableness, intellect, good humor, modesty, conviction, courage, determination, faith and optimism. He spoke with the remarkable voice of the radio announcer he once was, captivating you with every statement. Armstrong was informed by a towering intellect and a passionate conviction.”
In 2013, Armstrong received LPR’s Legacy Award at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman said, “When public officials leave office, they often disappear and are never heard from again, but Sen. Armstrong had a passion for fighting for conservative causes that started from the day when he was first elected to office in 1962 to his final days at Colorado Christian University.”
Sen. Cory Gardner said, “Our nation lost a great public servant whose mark on Colorado and this country embodies the virtues of liberty, faith and family. His booming voice, piercing gaze and love of fellow patriots will never be forgotten. So many people in Colorado were brought to conservative ideas and optimism through Sen. Armstrong. The United States is a better place because of his grace, humility and boundless spirit.”
Don Medsker of Centennial, passed away June 25, 2016. He is preceded in death by his wife Carol (Taylor) Medsker and is survived by his children Dan Medsker of Washington; Ginny (Dave) Marmolejo of Highlands Ranch; Zac (Heidi) Medsker of Silt; and Emily (Art) Lonborg of Centennial; and many loving grandchildren.
Don was born in Englewood, to Hollis and Dorothy Medsker, and became well known in his small town of Englewood as a great basketball player, standing over 6’7” tall, he towered over much of the competition.
After graduating from Englewood High School in 1954, he went onto Iowa State University where he was the center for the Iowa State Cyclones basketball team. A crowning moment in his basketball career came in 1957 when he faced Wilt Chamberlain of the University of Kansas and scored the winning basket in a great rivalry.
After graduating from Iowa State, Don moved back to Colorado and eventually attended the University of Colorado, School of Law. He graduated with Doctor of Law Degree (JD) and went onto have a successful career as an attorney.
He married Carol Taylor in 1967, and they were happily married for 46 years before Carol passed away in 2014. Don will be remembered as a kind and loving husband, father, grandfather and brother. Funeral service was July 5 at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch. Memorial donations may be made to God’s Grace Community Church P.O. Box 631633, Littleton, CO 80163.
BY JAN WONDRA
Doug Scott, who served as mayor of Cherry Hills Village from 2002 to 2006, died unexpectedly last week and memorial services were held June 14 in Highlands Ranch. Born in Memphis in 1964, he was already a world traveler when he moved to the metro Denver area in 1989.
Scott was a senior vice president with Shea Properties Colorado. He not only served two terms as mayor of Cherry Hills Village, but was on the board of trustees of ColoTrust, and served on the board of directors of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
He was active in water rights and use issues and served on the Inter Basin Compact Committee, among multiple other board and service positions. A voracious reader with a zest for life, Scott loved to travel, and had a passion for movies. Friends say that he had a golf swing that was so elegant it caused people near him to stop and watch.
He is survived by his wife Janice, daughter Lori (21), son Bennett (15) and brothers Alan and David. In lieu of flowers, donations made to the family will be sent to the charity Water.org in his memory.
Paul Edward Gingery (Skeeter) 79, of Littleton, passed away June 8, 2016.
He was born December 24, 1936 in Kremmling, the son of Edward “Ed” Gingery and Leota “Tillie” (Heeney) Gingery.
After graduating high school in Granby, Skeeter joined the U.S. Army and later worked for Bell Telephone Company for 35 years.
On January 29, 1966, Skeeter married the love of his life Josephine “Jody” Annette Florquist. They had two children, Dane and Derek. The couple were married 39 years until Jody passed in 2006.
Skeeter had a passion for the outdoors and was half owner of S&K outfitters and guide service.
He was a beloved husband and father and was a true friend to anyone who knew him and is survived by his two children Dane and Derek and two grandchildren, Zak and Samantha.
Skeeter is proceeded in death by his wife Jody, his parents Ed and Tillie, his brother Allen and niece Ashley Gingery. A memorial service will be held Thursday, June 16, at the Church of the Eternal Hills in Tabernash at 10:30 a.m. Luncheon to follow in the fellowship hall.
A private burial will take place at a later date arranged by Bullock’s Mortuary.
Will Faust Nicholson Jr. died peacefully at home on May 28. He was born on Feb. 8, 1929 in Colorado Springs to a sports-minded family. At the age of 7, the family moved to Denver where his father, William F. Nicholson Sr., would become mayor and prominent in golf circles.
Starting as a caddie at the Denver Country Club, Will Jr. eventually became president of the U.S. Golf Association, the chairman of the competition committees at the Augusta National Golf Club, served on the Masters rules committee for 17 years, chaired the competition committees for 15 years, and was also a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews in Scotland.
“There’s no individual who’s done more for the game and for the CGA in the last 100 years than Will Nicholson,” Colorado Golf Association Executive Director Ed Mate said. “He’s on the Mount Rushmore of golf in Colorado for sure.”
Nicholson was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame and the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame
He was accomplished businessman and banker, a onetime former chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the chairman, CEO and president of Colorado National Bankshares
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Shirley, his daughter Ann Naughton (Tom) of Colorado Springs, his son, Will Faust Nicholson III of Denver, his sister Betty Wheeler of Denver, eight grandchildren, Michael Naughton of Denver, Sarah Naughton Dorweiler (Jimmer) of Edina, Minn., Rob Naughton (Lindsay) of Denver, Katherine Naughton of Avon, Olivia Nicholson of Denver, Elizabeth Nicholson of New York, N.Y., Emily Nicholson of Denver and Marjorie Nicholson of Denver and a great-granddaughter, Audrey Dorweiler.
His parents, Will Faust and Gladys Burns Nicholson and his sister, Gladys Kirk, preceded him in death.
Services were held June 8 at St. John’s Cathedral in Denver with a private family interment in Colorado Springs the following day.
Donations in his memory can be made to The Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver, 2017 W. 9th Ave. Denver, 80204 and/or The Colorado Golf Foundation, 5990 Greenwood Plaza Blvd., Suite 102 Greenwood Village 80111.
Albert Roland Gibson, 87, of Roanoke passed away June 5, 2016. He was a man who loved Jesus and had concerns for other people. He has finished this portion of his spiritual life and is now in paradise safe in the arms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Albert is survived by his wife, Victoria Elizabeth Owen Gibson, his son, Mark Lawrence Gibson, (Denver), his beloved sister, Ann and brother-in-law Douglas Bailey (Roanoke), his brother Thomas Gibson (Norfolk), Victoria’s two sons and families, Todd and Rebecca Weaver, Tedd and Inger Weaver, their children Jesse and Tori, Mark’s two daughters; Tanya and Olga and their children Olivia, Maxwell and Isabella.
Albert was born to Maudie Bell Cable Gibson and George Gose Gibson of Crumpler, West Virginia, on March 6, 1929. Albert was the eighth of 11 children.
He married Jean Elizabeth Lawrence of McComas W.V. on June 4, 1949. The couple resided in McComas, W.V. before moving to Littleton in 1958. They had one son, Mark, born in Littleton.
Albert graduated Northfork High School 1947 before being drafted into the Army in 1951. He served as a member of the Army Signal Corps attached to the 7th Army during the Korean War. Following his honorable military service, he attended Indiana Technology Collage receiving a bachelor of science degree in electronics. Albert joined The Martin Company, Denver Division following graduation where he worked on design of the Titan I Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. Spending most of his working life with this company he saw it change to Martin Marietta and Lockheed Martin. His assignments took him to Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg Air Force Base, and numerous other NASA and Air Force facilities. Albert retired manager of Ground Systems Electrical Checkout and Launch Control for the Peacekeeper ICBM, Small Missile and Titan 4 missile programs.
He continued to live in Foxfield, a town he helped to create, becoming Foxfield’s first mayor until moving to Roanoke in 1999.
Albert was a member of both Arapahoe Road Baptist Church of Littleton, and Bonsack Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia.
Albert was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Jean and siblings, Gaines, Avron, Dale, George Jr., Helen, Randolph and Sara Jane.
A funeral for Albert Gibson was held June 8, at Bonsack Baptist Church with Dr. Robert Moore III officiating. Visitation was prior to the service, with interment at Wilson Cemetery in Check, VA. Memorials may be made in Albert’s name at Arapahoe Road and Bonsack Baptist Churches. Condolences may be left for the family at simpsonfuneral.com.
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.
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