For this story I had a total of 1 hour to report and write it. It seemed inappropriate for an obituary, but it turned out alright. What a rush!
BRUCE ROCKWELL, 81, WAS A KEY PLAYER IN DENVER’S DEVELOPMENT
“His engagement in the active life of the city really is unsurpassed,” said Susan Barnes-Gelt, spokeswoman for the Rockwell family.
Barnes-Gelt said Mr. Rockwell was crucial in Denver’s development, from his work with former Mayor Quigg Newton to serving on the board of the Denver Health and Hospital Authority.
Mr. Rockwell died Tuesday at Swedish Medical Hospital from complications of a stroke he suffered Thursday. He was 81.
Mr. Rockwell was born in Denver in 1922 and attended Denver Public Schools, leaving only to attend Yale University, where he graduated in 1945. He managed to complete his degree while being active in the Marine Corps and Navy during World War II throughout his college career.
He began his long career in the city as an aide for Newton from 1947 to 1952.
He worked as a board member for Colorado National Bank from 1953 until his retirement in 1985. He became CNB’s chairman of the board and CEO in 1973.
Barnes-Gelt said one of Mr. Rockwell’s ongoing goals was to fight for the rights of minorities, especially during the era of desegregation, during which Mr. Rockwell and his wife, Virginia, fought for mandatory busing.
“I think that both Bruce and Virginia were intensely committed to the rights of all citizens and the opportunity for all citizens,” Barnes-Gelt said. “They were the most determined and reliable kind of equal-opportunity people.”
His contributions to the city are numerous. Mr. Rockwell served on the board of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority from 1958 to 1968, which oversaw the development of the Auraria Campus, the Tabor Center and many other downtown development projects.
He was a founding member of Downtown Denver Inc., now known as the Downtown Denver Partnership, which promotes downtown businesses.
“I think his passionate belief in a just and equitable society and his enormous contribution to the civic life of Denver, the city he loved, I think those are his most notable public qualities.” Barnes-Gelt said.
Mr. Rockwell was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia, who died on April 13, 2003. He is survived by three children – David Rockwell, 52, of Boston; Jane Carlson, 49, of Denver; and Sarah Rockwell, 46, of Denver – and eight grandchildren.
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