Kindling – Remembering Governor Richard “Dick” Lamm

I have fond memories of Governor Richard “Dick” Lamm.

He was a Democrat  three term governor from 1975-1987.  He passed away in July at the age of 85.  A large memorial service was held to honor his memory at the Wings Over The Rockies Museum Aug. 31.  In attendance were hundreds of friends, VIPs, incumbent and retired United States senators, and a host of current and past elected officials.

It was my pleasure to meet the governor  in his first term as I was mayor of Craig and the local newspaper publisher.  He was greatly concerned about the impact of the coal plants and came to Craig often to offer his assistance on growth and development.  He, and his department of local affairs, awarded the Moffat County School system  $1 million dollars to build a new school.  We were grateful and I endorsed him for re-election to his second term of serving our state as governor.  His opponent Ted Strickland came out against rodeo  animal cruelty that didn’t play well in ranching country.

The coal industry blossomed, and Craig boomed with new jobs and many graduating seniors finding good jobs at the new coal plants.

I was disappointed when the governor opposed the winter Olympics in 1976 where Lamm felt it was too expensive and destructive to Colorado’s environment to host the games. It was my opinion, living in distant N.W. Colorado, only 42 miles from Ski Town USA Steamboat Springs, where some  alpine events were scheduled, would bring vast improvements to our highways and antiquated telecommunication  networks.

Because of our ongoing friendship he appointed me to a six-year term as a trustee at The University of Northern Colorado in
Greeley in 1978.  I served my six-year term, sitting on the board with Gail Schoetler who would in time become Colorado Lt. Governor and one of the speakers at this memorial tribune service.  

Lamms’ last four years found the governor becoming somewhat bored with the job.  He would check on state agency employees on Friday afternoons to see if they were still working and the offices open.

He invited me to ride with him to the Colorado Cattlemen’s Convention during his waning years and we had a good talk down memory lane about the coal plants in N.W. Colorado.  He was the featured speaker and after his speech we were invited to a reception.

He grabbed my arm and said, “We have to go, I’m due back in Denver  later today.”  We scuttled the reception and headed back to Denver in the state vehicle driven by a patrol officer.  He fell asleep on the way  to Denver and his desire to return home so fast was to jog on schedule.  He was really weary of the demands upon him as a public servant.

After leaving office he was somewhat bitter that he had missed  being in business during some very strong boom years while he was running the state on a $75,00 salary. He would confide in me that he didn’t have much to show for  his years of service as governor. He then commenced his successful new career as a professor at DU.

My last meeting with Dick and Dottie was at the Denver Public Library with a book ceremony.  I sat on the front row and took some photos of him and his wife of 58 years. He was in good company with famed Colorado historian author Tom Noel.

Tom Noel with Gov. Dick Lamm

Tributes were paid to Lamm by Gov. Polis,  former Mayor Wellington Webb, Gail Schoetler, Vicki Cowart, two of his students at DU, Uriel Barrurn and Allie Moore, one of his best friends, author Bruce Ducker, his loving daughter Heather Lamm, and his wife Dottie who bravely, and lovingly, told of how she first met Richard Lamm.  He was uninvited, but attended a party hosted by her airline stewardess friends.  He called her up a week later and wanted a date, she put him off, but he called again a week later, and she accepted, “Why not,”  she explained.  She liked his punctuality calling the same day, at the same time.  The marriage lasted for 58 years along with so many exciting and successful campaigns.  The couple had two children, Jeff and Heather.

Gov. Lamm gained national attention for his “Duty to Die” message to seniors stating that the elderly shouldn’t cost taxpayers so much money in old age medical care and treatment.  

The last song of the day by the Five Point Ambassadors was “Rocky Mountain High,” and the screen slide show displayed Gov. Lamm on one of his many beloved Colorado mountains.

I think his great asset was that he deeply cared about Colorado  and its citizens.   He served when Republicans and Democrats could work together and still be friends.  Colorado was the beneficiary. 

All honor to his name and family.