Pat Teegarden at Coors Field on Oct 25, 2019 checking out his seats for his season tickets for 2020. (Photo via FacebookO

This past week we lost an outstanding public servant, wonderful husband and father, and good friend to many of us. Pat Teegarden, the director of policy and legislation at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), passed away late last week. His passing was far too soon in the eyes of many of us and represents a great loss to our state and all of us who were fortunate to have him as a friend.

I had the pleasure of knowing Pat for a number of years. We shared an interest in politics, history, foreign policy, our families, and more. He had a deep concern for people and for our state, and we often discussed state policy. In speaking with him, you could sense his commitment to making our state better and helping people, particularly those less fortunate.

For many of us, we didn’t think that Pat’s job title fully fit. He was much more than that. He was more like an ambassador for the state of Colorado as he served in different roles over the years. He was a diplomat who performed his job with intelligence, honesty, respect for others and our institutions, empathy, and an utmost concern for the state and its citizens. In this capacity he served at times as a teacher in helping new lobbyists, legislators and others understand issues and processes; a counselor who listened to people and groups’ problems; a skilled and fair negotiator, and most of all a trusted confidant and friend.

While I viewed him as someone very special, I didn’t realize how many others did until I saw the numerous tributes, loving comments, and heartwarming stories on social media when people found that he passed. The posts were from a wide variety of people, some who had known Pat for many years as well as others who had only recently met him in the last year. One could see that even being around Pat for a short period was something special. The people were from all walks of life as well people throughout the world, which spoke to Pat’s ability to connect and appreciate all types of people. More importantly, those posts from so many friends and acquaintances spoke to the impact and difference that he made in their lives.

Pat was a fairly humble person and would be surprised and probably embarrassed by the outpouring of genuine affection and sense of loss that so many are feeling with his passing. Pat didn’t view himself as being someone special and was not one to seek attention; rather, he gave credit to others. On many major issues, Pat was the key person who helped bring together the different sides on a compromise, but he never mentioned it. To a large extent his success was due to the trust and respect that people had for him.

The comments on Facebook and Twitter about Pat remind me of a line in “It’s a Wonderful Life” by Clarence, who is George Bailey’s guardian angel sent from heaven to persuade him not to commit suicide. To accomplish this, Clarence shows him a vision of the future devoid of George having existed. This helps George understand how much of an impact and how important he has been in the lives of so many people. After showing those scenes, Clarence says to George, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.” Those lines seem very appropriate to Pat Teegarden who touched the lives of so many people and made a real difference. I’m guessing that Pat would want the rest of us to remember that we all have the ability to touch and make a difference in people’s lives, and the more we focus on making a positive difference, the more we can honor Pat’s legacy. 

Greg Fulton


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