Guest Columns

SMITH: ANDERSON WAS A WONDERFUL PUBLIC SERVANT

Remembering Freddy Anderson

Contributing Columnist

Editor’s Note: Former state Senate President Fred Anderson of Loveland died of a heart attack on Dec. 23 at the age of 83. He was elected to the state senate in 1966 and served until 1982 when he retired. He was president of the senate for eight years. Anderson was also very active in water issues in the state. He is survived by his wife, a brother, three sons, one daughter, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A memorial service will be held in the Denver area later this month.

I was so terrified I couldn’t speak. My throat was literally frozen shut. Freddy Anderson, however, was just chatting away as if nothing were wrong.

We were deep underground in the Idarado Mine, somewhere between Ouray where we had started and Telluride where we would end up. This was the summer of 1976, we were members of the Interim Committee on Mineral Taxation and our job was to learn about the mining industry and draft a severance tax bill. It was a hot issue for us Democrats. Our more liberal colleagues back in Denver and Boulder wanted us to come up with a tough bill. (We didn’t realize at the time of this tour that we were about to lose our majority and, therefore, all our leverage.)

Lunch in the Idarado mine in 1976. From the left, the DNR deputy director, Rep. Walt Waldow, and Sen. Tillie Bishop. Rep. Bob Kirscht is pictured to the rear.
Photo by Morgan Smith/The Colorado Statesman

Having met with local officials in Ouray the day before, it quickly became obvious that this mine — the only functioning metal mine in Colorado — was on the verge of going broke. So we came up with the idea of a stiff tax to satisfy our liberal colleagues but with a threshold so high in terms of production that the mine would never possibly have to pay anything.

Fred Anderson, who served eight years as president of the Senate, strikes a happy pose back in 1976 during talks on the state budget.
Photo by Morgan Smith/The Colorado Statesman

A mine tour, however, was always part of these meetings and that is what Freddy and I were doing deep underground. We had been shown one level of the mine and were to descend to a lower level. The only way to do this was to stuff ourselves in this tube called a “stope” as I remember it and pressed tight together, descend in the pitch darkness. I was embarrassed at how paralyzed with fear I was and astonished at Freddy’s bravery.

Joe Shoemaker, left, is explaining a compromise proposal to Freddy Anderson at the JBC
to renovate the veterinary hospital at CSU instead of building a new building.
Photo by Morgan Smith/The Colorado Statesman

Several weeks later we had our next Denver meeting. Just as we were about to get started, Freddy interrupted and said that he wanted to make a statement. “That Morgan Smith” he said, pointing to me. “He’s the bravest man I know. We were going down in this stope thing and I was so scared I couldn’t stop talking. But he just stood there perfectly calm and quiet.”

Freddy was also the driving force behind the new veterinary hospital at Colorado State University. It had a complicated history. First, we JBC members did not get along with the CSU President, Ray Chamberlain. In fact, we told him that he was not allowed to come to the budget hearings. Then Joe Shoemaker convinced Freddy that there would only be enough money available to do a renovation of the existing building rather than build a new one.

Freddy seemed to accept this but, on the side, he got me to come up and visit the existing building. It was located in the middle of the campus with students cutting through it on their way to classes, mixing with horses and other animals that were being treated. The idea of renovating this building and maintaining the same location was ridiculous, something you don’t realize until you go make a visit as we had done with the Idarado Mine earlier.

As a result of this quiet weekend visit organized by Freddy, we were able — after much controversy — to dump Joe’s renovation idea and get the funds for a new building.

Being a House member, I didn’t have much contact with Freddy. But when I did, something special always happened. He was a wonderful public servant who got things done for his community and did it with good cheer and humor. I will miss him.

Morgan Smith is a former member of the Colorado House of Representatives, Commissioner of Agriculture and Director of the Colorado International Trade Office. He can be reached at: Morgan-smith@comcast.net.