Bill Wise, Boul­der as­sis­tant DA for nearly 30 years, dies

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Mitchell Byars Bill Wise

boul­der» Bill Wise, who served as Boul­der County’s As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney for al­most 30 years, died Tues­day af­ter a bat­tle with can­cer. Wise was 79. Wise took the role in the Boul­der DA’s Of­fice af­ter cam­paign­ing with his friend and fel­low Univer­sity of Colorado law grad­u­ate, Alex Hunter, who was elected dis­trict at­tor­ney in 1972.

“I knew him for three years in law school and then we were in pri­vate prac­tice to­gether for five years be­fore we ran for DA,” Hunter said. “And when I say ‘we’ ran, I mean it ex­actly that way. The two of us were a team.”

For 28 years, Wise served as the of­fice’s sec­ond-in­com­mand un­til re­tir­ing in Jan­uary 2001, work­ing pri­mar­ily in an ad­min­is­tra­tive role and en­sur­ing the of­fice ran smoothly.

“He was good with per­son­nel, and he knew ev­ery­body,” Hunter said. “He was the kind of guy where peo­ple could go in and sit in his of­fice and lay out what­ever prob­lem they had, per­sonal or pro­fes­sional. I think that was Bill’s great­est strength.”

Boul­der Dis­trict Judge Bruce Langer first met Wise while work­ing as a crime re­porter in the mid80s.

“He was sort of the spokesman for the of­fice, and he was very avail­able,” Langer said. “I think he en­joyed talk­ing to re­porters. He made re­porters, es­pe­cially young ones like I was, very com­fort­able.”

When Langer went to law school, he served as a law clerk with Hunter and Wise, even­tu­ally join­ing Wise as a prose­cu­tor in the Boul­der DA’s Of­fice.

“Bill was one of the kind­est, most gen­er­ous peo­ple I ever met and he had no ego, which is un­usual for a lawyer,” Langer said. “I learned from him that it’s im­por­tant, even though you’re a prose­cu­tor, you’re still a per­son. And even though peo­ple you are prose­cut­ing are al­leged or have com­mit­ted crimes, they are peo­ple too.”

Langer re­called one time that Wise took a break from his ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties to han­dle a hear­ing at the jail — “prob­a­bly more for fun than any­thing else” — and saw a man there be­cause of a small court fee.

“Lit­er­ally, he owed some­thing like a dol­lar and a quar­ter,” Langer said. “So Bill reached into his pocket, got a dol­lar and a quar­ter and gave it to the judge and said, ‘Let him go.’ That’s not nor­mally the role of the prose­cu­tor.”

In 1975, then-Boul­der County Clerk Clela Rorex be­gan is­su­ing same-sex mar­riage li­censes based on the ad­vice of Wise, who said he could see noth­ing in the law pro­hibit­ing her from do­ing so.

Even af­ter his re­tire­ment, Wise found time in be­tween rounds of his beloved golf to still re­main in­volved with the lo­cal law com­mu­nity. Cur­rent Boul­der DA Stan Gar­nett said he sought out Wise when Gar­nett was con­sid­er­ing run­ning for the of­fice in 2008.

“He was al­ways very thought­ful and help­ful to me in talk­ing about the of­fice and talk­ing about the phi­los­o­phy that he and Alex had and talk­ing to me about some ideas for change,” Gar­nett said. “He was a gen­tle­man with great war sto­ries.”

Friends and fam­ily gath­ered for a ser­vice in Den­ver on Wed­nes­day, which would have been Wise’s 80th birth­day.

“To think of him not around any­more is re­ally hard for me,” Hunter said. “But I have a lot of good mem­o­ries though.”

had gone to law school with Alex Hunter. He was 79.

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