John Andrews carries a lot of superlatives in his long career in politics: Nixon speech writer, former legislative leader and founder of the Western Conservative Summit.
Friday night he added another title: award winner, as he was honored for his work.
He was in conservative form on his favorite issue, religious freedom and limited government. "Nothing matters more," Andrews said in the main ballroom at the Colorado Convention Center.
"Unless we're a nation under God, we're not a nation at all," he added.
Government can control people to the point it tries to replace God, he said as he pivoted to identity grievances.
"The flood of victims keeps rising," he said of pushback on Christians from the left. "How long with the dike hold?"
He spoke against radical Islamists (excepting everyday Muslims, whom he called good Americans).
"How can aggressive, dominant Islam and its supreme law, Sharia, co-exist with friendly, tolerant America and its supreme law, the Constitution?" Andrews said. "I don't honestly see how it can. I wish I was wrong."
The remark drew applause.
Andrews founded the Centennial Institute conservative think tank at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, and the well-known Independence Institute for right-leaning thought and advocacy in Denver, among other deeds the conservative cause.
"I refer to John as the Johnny Appleseed of the conservative movement" in Colorado, said Jeff Hunt, who took the reins of the Centennial Institute from Andrews in 2015.
Moreover, Hunt said, Andrews has been a great mentor to a generation of young conservatives who followed him.
Some of them spoke in a tribute video Friday night.
"John Andrews is just Colorado's ultimate renaissance citizen," said former Gov. Bill Owens. "You think about his record of service — Colorado Christian University, Western Conservative Summit, being president of the state Senate — you look at what he has done for Colorado, and he is one of those unknown warriors that we all owe so much to."
Said U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from the Eastern Plains: "You think about what John Andrews taught all of us in Colorado. He taught us about limited government. He taught us that government doesn't need to be the be-all, end-all for the state or this country."
Former state Senate Majority Leader Mark Hillman said, "John is a humble person who wasn't in the legislature because he was on an ego trip. He was there to do a job, to advocate for the things he believed in.
"He is such a good communicator, and he understands that at least half, if not more, is the listening side."
Wil Armstrong, the son of Colorado Christian founder and the late former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong, said his father "had tremendous admiration for John, as a thinker (and) as a policy person. I think the thing my father understood about John was his character ad his faith."
Donna Andrews, John's wife, recalled when her husband worked in Washington for the president. "He represented the under-30 crowd, which Nixon wanted," she said in the video.
"He was there until Watergate. John felt Nixon should have said, 'I'm sorry. I made a mistake.' And he wouldn't say that. John wrote it in some speeches, and it never got said. He couldn't live with himself, though, and he ended up resigning."
Ian Andrews, 17, recalled when he was younger, how his grandfather would quiz him on the presidents when they were riding in the car.
"I was really interested in it, because it's cool to have a grandfather who worked for a president," he said. "He works really hard to be a good influence and be a really big part of my life. I hope he knows he does a really good job."
Jon Caldara, the president of the Independence Institute and a ubiquitous media presence, thanked Andrews for giving him a start and always showing he's a good friend.
He reflected on Andrews' support when Caldara's daughter died and as his son has grown up with Downs syndrome.
"If it wasn't for John Andrews, the only thing I'd be saying in a mic is, 'Would you like fries with that?'" Caldara said. "John, thank you for what you've done for Colorado and America, and thank you for what you've done for me."