Newspaperman Blake remembered as fair, witty
Newspaperman Peter Blake, known for his fair, thorough and at times cutting political coverage, died of an aggressive brain tumor at Denver Hospice on Wednesday, leaving behind his wife and two sons.
Blake, 80, worked in the newspaper industry for nearly 40 years, making a name locally while working at the Rocky Mountain News as an investigative political journalist, columnist, editorial writer and city editor until he parted ways with the newspaper in 2007. But he didn’t stop writing. Instead, he continued to write political commentary at Complete Colorado until October.
Born in Copenhagen, Blake received numerous awards in journalism, including an induction into the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame in 2006.
“Peter was just one of the good guys,” said former lawmaker Norma Anderson, R-Lakewood. “You didn’t mind when he interviewed you because you knew he would always get what you said correct.”
He was fair, honest and an excellent writer who really knew the issues, she said. The two didn’t agree on everything. Anderson noted that they argued about term limits — she believed in them; he didn’t. But at the end of the day, she had only positive things to say about him.
Blake had a good sense of humor, Anderson said, a sentiment reiterated by friends, editors and article subjects.
In a tribute on Complete Colorado, Blake’s most recent editor, Todd Shepherd, wrote: “What I personally admired about Peter was his ability to gently skewer the powerful with humor. Not coincidentally, that’s generally the form of criticism that those in power can least withstand.”
Even competitors admired his humor.
“He is the only person I know who could throw a wadded-up rubber chicken from the press room into the Peter Blake Supreme Court law library that was across the hall in the Capitol,” former Denver Post political reporter Fred Brown said.
The two worked for rival papers, but Brown said all the political reporters were friends, seeing each other more than the staffs of their respective papers. Brown described Blake as one of the most “dogged” reporters he knew, pursuing a story until everything relevant was included and every detail correct.
“I always felt I was just a couple of steps behind him. He was just so hardworking,” Brown said. “I had to resort to writing columns about my cat in order to have something he didn’t have.”
Blake’s work ethic made politicians hold him in high regard, although it didn’t do wonders for their nerves.
“I remember that, more than any other reporter up there, when Peter would call or try to get access, the caution flags would go up because you knew he was unpredictable,” former Gov. Dick Lamm said. “He really would nose around. You never could anticipate where he was going. But it was always in the furtherance of good newspapering.”
Lamm recalled clashing with Blake over open-meeting laws that required officials to give public notice of meetings. Lamm said he’d try to have meetings with his leadership over breakfast at the Governor’s Mansion, but Blake would show up, too.
Blake was the epitome of professionalism, not even dropping his guard when the two ran into each other at the movies, Lamm said. Although this made Blake “the gold standard of political reporting,” the former governor lamented that he wasn’t able to get to know Blake better.
Former News and Denver Post editorial page editor Vincent Carroll said Blake was fearless.
“He simply didn’t worry about who might be irritated or angered by his conclusions, even if it meant they wouldn’t talk to him again or would try to retaliate,” Carroll said. “He thought journalism was too important to cushion or shade the truth.”
Beyond journalism, Blake’s family said he was passionate about baseball. He played catcher in several Denverarea senior leagues and competed in out-of-state Over 70 World Series tournaments.
Blake is survived by his wife, the Rev. Sandy Blake; his son John (Shannon) in Houston and son Dana (Haven) in Dallas; grandchildren Alexandra and Connor, and Tabor Blake; sister Alice in California; and nieces and nephews in Colorado, California and Virginia.
A memorial service will be at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 1401 E. Dry Creek Road, Centennial, at 1 p.m. Saturday.
A reception follows the service.
Former Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post editorial page editor Vincent Carroll