J. Ivanhoe “Ivan” Rosenberg, Denver City Councilman, newspaper publisher
The Colorado Statesman
Veteran newspaper publisher and former Denver City Councilman Ivan J. Rosenberg passed away on Aug. 4 after suffering a stroke in Carbondale. His 93 years of life were full, his interests varied, and his death ended a career full of meaningful milestones.
Although Rosenberg was first elected to Denver City Council in 1970 and served from 1971 to 1975, our paths didn’t cross until a decade or so later when we were introduced at an annual Colorado Press Association convention. He was a big man in stature, bore a wide grin and was nattily dressed, which was fitting for our encounter at the Brown Palace Hotel where conventioneers were gathered. I was a measley cub reporter for a relatively unknown political newspaper at the time. Ivan, in contrast, had grown up in a Denver publishing family, seemed to know everyone, and as I soon learned, was well-versed in all facets of newspapering — and life in general. He worked in his father’s business as a lad and ultimately became the owner of Barnum Printing and Publishing Company, which at one time published seven weeklies, including the Southwest Denver Herald Dispatch and La Voz, a bilingual publication in town. His printing company, now in the hands of son I.V. Rosenberg of Boulder, used to print The Colorado Statesman. And one of his other sons, Joe, used to own the bindery and mailing house that addressed our papers and got them into the mail each week.
October 30, 1919 - August 4, 2013
When I saw Ivan over the years — usually at his newspaper office in southwest Denver (or once in awhile at the venerable Denver Press Club) — it was like being transplanted back to an earlier era. The office, which faced Federal Blvd. and provided a keen view of life in that storied neighborhood, was always cluttered, as you might expect it to be, with tools of the trade — manual typewriters, old newspapers and relics of the printing industry. This was before we all became computerized.
And if I remember correctly, there were usually some odd contraptions sitting around his desk. I later found out that Ivan actually designed and invented several products for which he held patents.
The sounds of the printing press, situated in the same building, would routinely crank up as oversized reams of newsprint were fed into the giant presses. It was noisy in that old storefront of a building.
But Ivan was a storyteller and relished conversing about all kinds of things, not just printing. I recall one afternoon our chat about the paralyzing blizzard of 1981 and how the lack of timely snow removal probably blew away then-Mayor Bill McNichols’ hopes for another term. I later learned that Ivan owned Sno-Skat, a snow removal manufacturing business.
After serving in the U.S. Marines, Ivan’s interest in auto racing grew to be a lifelong hobby and he became active in the Colorado Automobile Racing Club.
He founded the Colorado Wildfires Volunteer Association and was an avid supporter of the Denver Fire Department.
He was involved in numerous civic activities, serving as president of the Optimist Club and SW Denver YMCA.
During his career on Denver City Council, which Ivan told his family was his most significant career achievement, he pushed for the development of the 16th Street Mall, helping turn it into a pedestrian walkway that served to lure back shoppers to the depressed downtown area.
Ivan served on the board of the Colorado Press Association and at one time received the “Golden Make-up Rule” award in recognition by editors and publishers throughout the state of his service to the newspaper industry.
Ivan is survived by six children, sixteen grandchildren, fifteen great-grandchildren, and seven great-great-grandchildren. His wife of 48 years, Shirley, died in 1985.
A memorial and celebration of his life was held on Aug. 10. Memorial donations can be made to the American Cancer Society to benefit breast cancer research.