Jerry Kopel

Star Caywood took his family out on the lake near Walsenburg for a fishing trip. A sudden storm with heavy winds broke over the lake, tossing the boat which began taking on water. Star decided to swim to shore and seek help. Halfway towards shore, he turned and started swimming back to the boat. He didn't make it, and drowned.

Frank Anaya crawled on elbows and knees into a bar in Tijuana late one night. He had been stabbed at least twenty times, and he bled to death.

Harold Adcock was part of personnel management at Montfort in Greeley. Harold visited a recently fired employee at the worker's home. The worker, a huge, heavy-set man was having delusions and thought short, thin Harold was Satan. The worker picked up Harold as if he was a rag-doll, carried him into the yard, tied him down and hammered a wooden stake through his heart.

All three, Caywood, Anaya, and Adcock were state representatives in the Forty-fifth General Assembly whose thirtieth anniversary is May 14th. Only one member from the 1965-66 session is still in the legislature, Wayne Knox.

This is obviously a column of reminisces, passing on information that might otherwise disappear if not set down in print. Unlike legislators in 1996, no legislator in 1966 (except for leadership) had offices. Our desk on the floor of the House and Senate was our office with a two-drawer file cabinet standing next to the desk.

As a result, we had to get along with and tolerate each other to a degree unknown by the present legislators.

Dominic Coloroso served six terms in the Colorado House between 1935 and 1972, including 1965-66. He died at the age of 88, while living at the home of his daughter Fran Coloroso Daly and her family in Missoula, Montana. He had in his room (and would gaze fondly at) one of the chairs used by legislators from 1959 to 1990.

John Mackie died of a heart attack in 1972 while playing ball with children in front of his home. He was 51. In 1965, Mackie was assistant minority leader, but he was majority leader when the Republicans controlled the House.

John gave notice on the House floor in 1968 that he was not going to run again. This was followed by a paper signed by the other 64 House members urging him to reconsider. And with good reason. Mackie worked late into the night almost every night in his legislative office, reading all the bills and amendments and figuring out what was really happening.

The 1965-66 legislature produced two governors, Roy Romer and John Vanderhoof; three lieutenant governors, Vanderhoof, Mark Hogan, and George Brown; two U.S. senators, Bill Armstrong and Floyd Haskell; one congressman, Armstrong; one attorney general, J.D. MacFarlane; two supreme court justices, Tony Vollack and Don Kelley; and two state treasurers, Romer and Palmer Burch. No other legislative session in the past thirty years can boast of similar achievers.

On opening day in 1965, the House had a majority of members who had never served a single day in the legislature. This was partly because the House went from 24 Democrats to 42 and many legislators from both parties who had served previously were defeated, or ran for other offices, or retired.

Without sufficient experienced legislators to chair all the committees, Speaker Allen Dines appointed a freshman, Betty Miller to chair Local Government, and a freshman, J.D. MacFarlane, to the Joint Budget Committee.

The 1966 session began Jan. 5 and ended Feb. 24th, after considering 81 bills. Legislators returned May 12 for a three-day session called by Governor Love because Colorado was one of six states being considered for the construction of a 200-300 Bev Proton Synchrotron Particle Accelerator.

Gov. Love suggested some 23,927 acres of state land where the accelerator could be built. HB 1002 by Vanderhoof and Dines, establishing a commission with authority to obtain additional land and water, passed unanimously.

Fortunately for Colorado, Lyndon Johnson was president and Texas was the chosen site. When Congress cut off additional funding for construction of the accelerator, it was Texas, not Colorado, that suffered a very heavy monetary loss.


As long as I'm reminiscing, here are some thoughts about Rae Hilbert, a Denverite who died March 14th, shortly after receiving the Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation (INC) 1996 Good Neighborhood Award, along with her husband Bob Hilbert.

Every legislator has or should have a Rae Hilbert. She is the precinct committeewoman who knows everyone in the area, goes door to door to make sure people get registered, collects money for the party during the Dollars for Democrats drive, works at your campaign headquarters, gets your literature delivered to every house, gives you tips on how to sway certain individuals in her precinct, and most important of all, puts her credibility on the line by telling everyone to vote for you.

That's what Rae, and her husband Bob, did for me. The last twelve years of my legislative tour may well have been decided by Rae's efforts in her precinct. I defeated Paul Swalm by 190 votes in 1980, 8629 to 8439. In Rae's precinct, I won 255 to 84, a 171 vote margin and my best precinct. If you add the absentee ballots from her precinct, which probably all went for me, it was the margin of victory.

Thank you Rae. You changed the lives of a lot of people. I'm honored to be one of them.

Jerry Kopel writes a column for the Statesman based on 22 years past experience as a state legislator.

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