Sad farewell to another great Coloradan in a year that has seen too many such deaths. My friend Peter Blake, political writer at the old Rocky Mountain News for almost 40 years, lost his battle with brain cancer on Wednesday, Pearl Harbor Day. Patriots mourn him along with others we lost in 2016, including Senator Bill Armstrong of CCU, Christian leaders Jim Dixon and Roger Cross, philanthropists Jerry Lewis and Joe Ignat, and beloved matriarchs such as Jean Ann Siecke (Don’s wife) and Gene Koelbel (Buz’s mom).
As a consummate newsman, Pete played no favorites, but he was always fair to me. In 1990 his column broke the April story of my run for governor against Roy Romer, and in October as the race ended he wrote a column contending, “Andrews will lose, but his ideas may win.” Many of them eventually did, including term limits that year, worker’s comp reform to grow the economy a year later, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in 1992, charter schools in 1993 and school vouchers in 2003 (though a Democrat supreme court voided the latter).
Dang, I miss the Rocky. Colorado is worse off with Denver a one-paper town. It was Al Knight of the RMN who gave our newborn Independence Institute its first fair coverage in 1985, and John Sanko of the RMN who always shot straight with me as a state senator, 1998-2005. Lynn Bartels and Jean Torkelson also gave solid coverage during my statehouse years, and much earlier Jay Ambrose helped bring the Shavano Institute to Coloradans’ attention. Vince Carroll’s leadership of the editorial page was superb. The News’s lefty writer Mike Littwin and I even became radio pals. Amazing.
Back to Pete Blake: Sandy, his wife of 50 years, tells me he was still playing ball with his team and climbing ladders at home, as recently as October, before the tumor crashed in. It gladdens my heart that he became a commentator at II’s Complete Colorado in recent years. And it didn’t hurt that he was a Yale man as were my mentors Bill Buckley of National Review and Nixon speechwriter Ray Price. That his family includes a grandson named — wait for it, Tabor — just adds to my warm affection and admiration for this irreplaceable voice on the Colorado scene.
Thinking about the integrity and professionalism Pete exemplified, I’ll always admire him for demonstrating that a journalist can have a healthy skepticism of power and the powerful without turning cynical and adversarial, a distinct point of view (in his case, conservative-libertarian) without fudging the facts or slanting the story, and an unapologetic love of country without becoming starry-eyed. Did they break the mold when they made him? For America’s sake I sure hope not.
Colorado Peak Politics provides a formal obituary for Blake. Services will be next Saturday, Dec. 17, 1pm at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Centennial. Join me there to pay our respects.