San Francisco Chronicle
Richard Lamm — blocked Olympics as Colorado governor
DENVER — Former Colorado Democratic Gov. Richard “Dick” Lamm, who successfully fought to stop the 1976 Winter Olympics from being held in Colorado even though they had been awarded to the state, has died. He was 85.
Lamm passed away late Thursday following complications from a pulmonary embolism suffered this week, his wife, Dottie Lamm, said in a statement issued Friday.
Lamm served three terms as governor from 1975 to 1987. As a state lawmaker and environmental activist, he campaigned against having Denver host the 1976 Games, arguing it would damage the environment and cost the state. Colorado voters rejected spending state funds on the Games, and they were relocated to Innsbruck, Austria.
Denver voters later passed an initiative requiring voter approval for any future Olympic Games.
Lamm once said he was treated as a “pariah” by the business community over the affair, but he feared the Games would be economically and environmentally devastating.
Lamm’s legacy includes a landmark abortion rights law and state ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972. The proposed amendment eventually fell several states short of ratification. He also appointed the first woman to the state’s Supreme Court.
“Gov. Lamm took on tough issues, and he never shied away from civil political discourse and embraced collaboration,” Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said in a condolence message Friday. “Gov. Lamm’s legacy and leadership will be remembered in our state’s history as well as his work to make Colorado an even more amazing place.”
Lamm was born on Aug. 3, 1935, in Madison, Wis. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and a law degree from UC Berkeley. He also served in the U.S. Army. In 1962 he became an attorney for the Colorado AntiDiscrimination Commission, and from 196574 had his own law practice.
He and his wife, Dottie, married in 1963. Dottie Lamm is a women’s rights activist and a former Denver Post columnist.
Dick Lamm served as a state representative from 1966 to 1974 before becoming governor. He was elected to three terms, before Colorado restricted governors to two terms in office.
He ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate nomination to replace Democratic Sen. Tim Wirth. In 1996, he sought the presidential nomination for the Reform Party, losing to Ross Perot of Texas.
As a legislator, he pushed through one of the first preRoe vs. Wade abortion laws. It became a national model.
After leaving politics, Lamm served as executive director of the University of Denver’s Center for Public Policy and Contemporary Issues and coauthored several books.