Morgan. I want you to come to Denver for a wedding on May 16.”
I immediately recognize Joe Shoemaker’s raspy voice.
“Whose wedding?” I ask.
I don’t know what to say. Joe Shoemaker, my adversary during those years on the JBC, the man who subsequently led the cleanup of the South Platte River. Now in his mid ’80s, he’s getting remarried.
Sure enough, on the evening of May 16, Julie and I are in Denver to congratulate Joe and to meet his lovely new wife, Karen Ozias, a longtime Denverite and former adjunct faculty member at the University of Colorado at Denver.
Lots of former legislators are there as well. Joe’s son, Jeff, who served in the House. Frank Southworth. Ruth Wright. Shirleen Tucker. And Alan Charnes, who was the JBC director when Joe was chairman. And Chips Barry, deputy director of the Department of Natural Resources back then and now manager of the Denver Water Board.
“Joe was a legislative inspiration for me when I was House Minority Leader,” says Ruth. “He told me to study hard and know more than the others.”
“I’ve never seen my dad any happier or any healthier,” his son, Jeff, adds.
“Joe is a hero to public works engineers. He knew how to make things happen for the public good. The South Platte River rebirth is his legacy,” says Ken Wright, Ruth’s husband, president of Wright Water Engineers and also a key player in the South Platte cleanup.
A special evening for a special man who has done so much for Colorado. Good luck to him and Karen.
Morgan Smith is a former state legislator, commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture and director of the Colorado International Trade Office.