Guest Columns

SMITH: A MAN WORTH KNOWING

Carl Hilliard (and his sense of humor) will be missed

The Colorado Statesman

It hurts to read of the passing of Carl Hilliard. He was a fine reporter — always fair, thorough and objective. He also had a great sense of humor. I was the subject of one of his jokes many years ago.

During the 1977 session, I was one of the two Democrats on the Joint Budget Committee. It was a frustrating session, and when it came time to introduce the Long Bill, I refused to sign it and wrote an op-ed piece for the Rocky Mountain News entitled “Indiscriminate Budget Cutting betrays GOP Ignorance.” House Speaker Ron Strahle from Ft. Collins then called me an “obstructionist” and threatened to keep me off the JBC Conference Committee. This all brewed up over a weekend when, by coincidence, I was playing in a hockey tournament for a team celled Kohman’s Raiders, sponsored by Paul Kohman who had a drywall company in Adams County where we lived. During one of the games, I caught a stick across the face and had to show up at the Capitol Monday morning all bruised and swollen.

Carl then quickly spread the word that Strahle had taken me out behind the Capitol and worked me over. There were lots of laughs as well as plenty of embarrassment on my side. The thought of the pudgy Ron Strahle working me over! But Hilliard’s joke defused the political situation.

Later Carl took up fencing and asked me a number of times to take lessons with him. I never did and I regret it. He was a fine person and personified the best in politics, journalism and in just being a good person.

Morgan Smith served in the Colorado House from 1973 to 1978. He can be reached at Morgan-smith@comcast.net.