News­pa­per­man Blake re­mem­bered as fair, witty

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Danika Wor­thing­ton

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

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