Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm dies at 85

DENVER — Former Colorado Democratic Gov. Richard “Dick” Lamm, who successfully fought to stop the 1976 Winter Olympics from being held in Colorado even though they had been awarded to the state, has died. He was 85.

Lamm passed away late Thursday following complications from a pulmonary embolism suffered this week, his wife, Dottie Lamm, said in a statement issued Friday.

Lamm served three terms as governor from 1975 to 1987. As a state lawmaker and environmental activist, he campaigned against having Denver host the 1976 games, arguing it would damage the environment and cost the state. Colorado voters rejected spending state funds on the Games, and they were relocated to Innsbruck, Austria.

Denver voters later passed an initiative requiring voter approval for any future Olympic Games.

Lamm once said he was treated as a “pariah” by the business community over the affair, but he feared the Games would be economically and environmentally devastating.

Lamm’s legacy includes a landmark abortion rights law and state ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972. The proposed amendment eventually fell several states short of ratification. He also appointed the first woman to the state’s Supreme Court.

“Gov. Lamm took on tough issues, and he never shied away from civil political discourse and embraced collaboration,” Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said in a condolence message Friday. “Gov. Lamm’s legacy and leadership will be remembered in our state’s history as well as his work to make Colorado an even more amazing place.”

Lamm was born on Aug. 3, 1935, in Madison, Wisconsin. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and a law degree from University of California, Berkeley. He also served in the U.S. Army. In 1962 he became an attorney for the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Commission, and from 1965-1974 had his own law practice.

He and his wife, Dottie, married in 1963. Dottie Lamm is a women’s rights activist and a former Denver Post columnist.

Dick Lamm served as a state representative from 1966 to 1974 before becoming governor. He was elected to three terms, before Colorado restricted governors to two terms in office.

He ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate nomination to replace Sen. Tim Wirth. In 1996, he sought the presidential nomination for the Reform Party, losing to Ross Perot of Texas.

Lamm swept into Colorado politics as a John F. Kennedy idealist but years later came to be nicknamed “Governor Gloom,” a realist focused on the nation’s future.

As a legislator, he pushed through one of the first pre-Roe vs. Wade abortion laws. It became a national model.

“I decided that would probably be the end of my career, but it just seemed to me outrageous that you would force unwilling women to have unwanted children,” Lamm told The Associated Press in a 1996 interview. “I just can’t not fight for what I believe in.”

Lamm spent much of his last term as governor writing and speaking on the fiscal irresponsibility of his generation and what he called the need to rein in immigration and curtail entitlement programs such as Social Security. He opposed the death penalty as governor but endorsed it after leaving office.

“Over the 12 years he was governor, he became more conservative, and I think the reason he became more conservative was because he learned the realities of governing and the realities of financially managing a government,” Nancy Dick, Lamm’s lieutenant governor during his last two terms, recalled at the time.

Lamm initially had the benefit of a Democratic House to help him pass legislation focusing on land use, equal rights, mining severance taxes and growth management. But a Republican wave overtook the Legislature two years into his administration. From then on Lamm battled two hostile chambers.

The Legislature reined in the power of the executive branch after deciding Lamm had gone too far with growth management policies.

After leaving politics, Lamm served as executive director of the University of Denver’s Center for Public Policy and Contemporary Issues and co-authored several books. He was an outdoor enthusiast and enjoyed hiking, mountain climbing and skiing.

He and his wife had two children, Scott Hunter Lamm and Heather Susan Lamm.

Funeral services were pending, his wife said.

Share Your Story

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango


"

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
2 officers shot, injured while serving warrant in Houston
Around the Region
Two Houston police officers were shot ... Two Houston police officers were shot and injured while serving a warrant at an apartment complex Monday morning, authorities said. Harris County Sheriff Ed ...
2
Liability concerns lead to shutdown of some Colorado 14ers
Around the Region
The ramifications of a lawsuit that ... The ramifications of a lawsuit that ended with the U.S. government paying an injured mountain biker several million dollars after a crash on a ...
3
COVID burnout rises among Colorado's public health leaders
Around the Region
A few weeks ago, Dawn James' ... A few weeks ago, Dawn James' job as Kit Carson's public health director was making her sick to her stomach. After being questioned, threatened ...
4
Trust's investment profits produce outpouring of grants
Around the Region
A Phoenix-based charitable trust's investments over ... A Phoenix-based charitable trust's investments over the last 15 months did well and dozens of social service groups, arts organizations and other nonprofits still ...
5
Maricopa County attorney: Returning to work after treatment
Around the Region
Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel plans ... Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel plans to return to work Monday after getting treatment for nearly three weeks for anxiety as well as an ...
6
Rural patients unable to transfer to full Arizona hospitals
Around the Region
As Arizona's biggest hospitals fill up ... As Arizona's biggest hospitals fill up with COVID-19 cases, physicians in some of the state's smaller or more rural communities fear it's their patients ...
7
Arizona reports 2,457 new COVIC-19 cases and 26 more ...
Around the Region
Health officials in Arizona on Sunday ... Health officials in Arizona on Sunday reported 2,457 new COVID-19 cases and 26 additional deaths. The latest numbers increased the state's totals to 1,066,803 ...
8
Colorado Republican leaders reject opting out of primary
Around the Region
Colorado Republican leaders have voted down ... Colorado Republican leaders have voted down a proposal from that would have allowed GOP nominees to be selected by a relatively small number of ...
9
3 of 4 men injured in Chandler explosion now ...
Around the Region
Three of the four men who ... Three of the four men who suffered serious burn injuries in an explosion at a Chandler printing shop last month are out of the ...