Governor orders flags lowered Thursday to honor former U.S. Rep. Ray Kogovsek

Then-state Sen. Ray Kogovsek, left, makes a pitch with fellow Pueblo Democrat state Rep. Bob Kirscht to the Joint Budget Committee for more funds for the community college in Pueblo in this photo from the 1970s. (Photo by Morgan Smith/The Colorado Statesman)

Then-state Sen. Ray Kogovsek, left, makes a pitch with fellow Pueblo Democrat state Rep. Bob Kirscht to the Joint Budget Committee for more funds for the community college in Pueblo in this photo from the 1970s. (Photo by Morgan Smith/The Colorado Statesman)

Gov. John Hickenlooper has ordered flags lowered to half-staff on all public buildings statewide on Thursday to honor Pueblo native Ray Kogovsek, a former state lawmaker and congressman, who died Sunday night. Flags should be lowered from sunrise to sunset, the governor’s office said.

Kogovsek, 75, a Democrat, served a decade in the Colorado Legislature — he was elected to one term in the House in 1968 and then two terms in the Senate after that, including serving as Senate majority leader starting in 1973 — and three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1979-1985. He declined to seek a fourth term, returned to Colorado and formed Kogovsek & Associates, where he advocated for western issues for more than 30 years.

“We have lost a true warrior of democracy,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Ray dedicated his life to supporting the interests of the people of Pueblo and Southern Colorado. His efforts have left an indelible mark across our state and on so many lives that will cherish his legacy of respect and selflessness in serving others.”

Peter Roper gathered remembrances and tributes from Kogovsek’s colleagues across a lifetime in public service in his hometown newspaper, the Pueblo Chieftain.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, who represents the 3rd Congressional District seat Kogovsek held, delivered a tribute to his predecessor on the House floor last Thursday after he’d received word that Kogovsek was battling a fierce recurrence of lymphoma following three years of remission.

Tipton pointed out that Kogovsek won his seat in 1978 by just 364 votes and then won a rematch two years later by 22,000 votes in the same year as the Reagan landslide. “Ray won because of who Ray is,” Tipton said. “He is a man of gentle wisdom, wisdom about people, a man with a gut instinct to know what is right, a genuine man, a man who knows no anger.”

Kogovsek will lie in state 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday at Roselawn Cemetery Chapel in Pueblo. The funeral mass will be at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Pueblo followed by internment at Roselawn Cemetery. There will be a reception to celebrate Kogovsek’s life at 12:30 p.m. Friday at St. Joseph’s Hall, 917 East B Street, in Pueblo.

His family has requested donations or memorials be sent to St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church or the Democratic Party.

It’s the fourth time Gov. Hickenlooper has ordered flags in Colorado lowered this year. The first occasion was on Feb. 22 in memory of former Lt. Gov. Mark Hogan, who died Feb. 12. On April 6, the governor ordered flags lowered in honor of John Glenn until the former senator and astronaut was interred. President Donald Trump ordered flags nationwide lowered for the same period to honor Glenn. The governor ordered flags lowered on April 28 to honor Adams County Fire Rescue firefighter Brett Anderson.

The governor’s office maintains a web page displaying the current flag status for the U.S. flag and the Colorado flag.

ernest@coloradostatesman.com

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