The Colorado House on Wednesday paid tribute to Marilyn Eddins, who is retiring after 15 years as chief clerk and more than 40 years as a nonpartisan House staffer.
The House passed a resolution, which had been kept secret from her, in her honor Wednesday. ("Toughest secret I've ever had to keep," said Republican Rep. Hugh McKean of Loveland, one of its sponsors.) The resolution came with a lengthy standing ovation for the tearful Eddins, who held a tissue to her eyes during its reading.
Eddins was chief clerk for seven Speakers of the House, beginning with then-Speaker Andrew Romanoff in the 2005 session. Six of the seven speakers under whom she served joined in the tribute Wednesday.
Romanoff told Colorado Politics Wednesday that "she was a mom to me and den mother to all of us. She's a model of integrity and wisdom and kindness. I could not have done that job without her, and I wouldn't have wanted to."
Former Speaker Mark Ferrandino of Denver said Eddin's humor and passion stood out most for him.
Her passion for the institution is boundless, he said, including "how this place works, and it won't work the same way without her in that chair. Something happens, and you look down and Marilyn has an answer. ... If you're having a tough day, you sit in Marilyn's office and have a conversation and you feel so much better."
Eddins told Colorado Politics she's most proud of the building -- not just the physical structure, but the institution itself. Her legacy includes extensive renovation work in the Capitol, both to the House chamber and to the House committee rooms, restoring to its original character House fixtures and wall coverings. She noted she was pushed into it by then-Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, who got the idea after an old radiator went haywire about eight years ago.
According to the resolution, Eddins' restoration work included finding out that several historic architectural elements that belonged to the Capitol had been "unlawfully removed and sold. She sought them out and, upon locating them at a local antique store, purchased the items and returned them to their rightful home."
Eddins also "safely hid the rare and valuable Apollo 11 moon rock in a secure location for several years until it could be placed in a secure display case." She was responsible to obtaining a number of busts and statues that once belonged to former Gov. John Love and placing those on display at the Capitol, the resolution stated.
But she did much more than work on restoration and beautification projects, both inside and outside the state Capitol. She also played a significant role in helping to draft the legislature's policy on services to people with disabilities, to ensure they had access to the Capitol and to the legislative proceedings.
The resolution noted Eddins has earned the "respect and trust of the members of the House, House staff, partisan and nonpartisan legislative staff, lobbyists, the state architect and the other employees of the Colorado Department of Personnel, members of the press corps, and so many others who have had the opportunity" to work with her.
She is "universally viewed as a kind, compassionate, knowledgeable and dedicated member of the legislative staff, but her deep love and respect for the institution she has dutifully served for decades also makes her fiercely loyal to and protective of the institution, its leadership, and its members."
She and her daughter, Tiffany, a teacher, bought an RV, and last year they went to nine state capitals, Eddins said.
They'll continue that journey this year after the school year is over, and when that's done, they'll begin visiting national parks.