South Platte River Basin: R.I.P. Joe Shoemaker


From Westword (Patricia Calhoun):

Joe Shoemaker passed away yesterday, but he left an incredible legacy.

Just take a walk over to Confluence Park — or any of the parks along the Platte — on any morning, and you’ll see the trickle-down effect of his work, as residents of Denver enjoy a true urban oasis.

From The Denver Post (Joanne Davidson):

“My dad finished his life in the way he lived it,” recalled his son, William Jeffrey “Jeff” Shoemaker of Denver. “He had been in declining health for the past several months, and when it became clear that the end was near he willed himself to hold on until every member of our family, including his newest great-granddaughter, could be there.”[…]

A celebration of life will be at 10 a.m. Aug. 28 at Confluence Park. In addition, Shoemaker will be remembered at the Greenway Foundation’s signature fundraiser, the Sept. 20 Gala on the Bridge…

Joe Shoemaker was born Aug. 13, 1924, in Hawarden, Iowa. He attended Iowa State University for two years, completing his education at the U.S. Naval Academy. Penny Dykstra Shoemaker, his wife of 60 years, died in 2008. In 2009 he married Karen Ozias.

In addition to his wife and son, Jeff, Shoemaker is survived by daughter Jean Watson-Weidner of Lakewood; sons Joseph J. Shoemaker of Denver and James Dykstra Shoemaker of Highlands Ranch; nine grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.

Joe and Penny Shoemaker moved to Denver in 1956 when he was the 18th attorney to be hired at the Holland & Hart law firm. He was chief of staff for then-Mayor Dick Batterton, who later appointed him manager of public works and deputy mayor.

From The Colorado Statesman (Morgan Smith):

The other memory that the photos bring back is the laughter. When David Gaon from Denver and I were appointed as the House Democrats to the Joint Budget Committee right after the 1974 elections, no one was talking about laughter. Joe was considered to be this iron-fisted conservative who was squeezing the life out of the human services programs that we Democrats believed in so strongly. Confronting him as JBC committee members was going to be a struggle.

Well, there were struggles but, as a committee, we soon began to function as a team more so than any other legislative committee I ever served on. We enjoyed being together, trusted each other and had a lot of laughs. Why? Because of the tone of respect that Joe immediately created as Chairman and because he understood the importance of compromising and working things out. To many in politics today, “compromise” is the ultimate dirty word but compromising is how you get things done and keep your state or country moving forward.

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