Grampsas, Anthony S.

Written by Linda Kirkpatrick on .



Tony Grampsas

1936 - 1999

Born and raised in Kansas City, MO, the son of Greek immigrant parents. Served in the US Army. Married to Sandy. Moved to Evergreen in 1972. Worked at Coors Brewing Company for 26 years, most of which as Director of National Affairs. Elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1984 representing House District 25 in Jefferson County for 7 terms.

Served on the following committees: Agriculture; Health, Environment, Welfare, and Insitutions; House Services; Transportation, Business Affairs and Labor; Appropriations (chair 1991-98); Joint Budget (chair or vice chair 1991-98). Speaker Pro Tempore of the House 1993-98. Elected to the Colorado Senate representing Senate District 13 in Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Jefferson, and Summit counties. As a freshman senator, served as chair of the Senate Finance Cmte. and a member of the Senate Appropriations and Business Affairs and Labor Cmtes.

As a member of the General Assembly, served as chair of the State Medical Assistance Reform Advisory Cmte. in 1995, vice-chair of the Juvenile Offenders Cmte. in 1987-88, a member of the Federal Budget Task Force and Long Range Planning for State Government Cmte. in 1990, the Education Task Force in 1991, the Statewide Medicaid System Cmte. in 1990, the Education Task Force in 1991, the Statewide Medicaid System Cmte. in 1996, and the Children's Information Management Cmte. in 1998.

He was proud to have helped in the renovation of the buildings at the Colorado School of Mines, the library system, the juvenile justice system, the education system, and modernization of juvenile justice institutions. His support for education and developmentally disabled issues was strong, and he had hoped to reform the foster care system before he died at age 62.

He is remembered as the only man in the State who could say "no" to a budget request, followed by "not this year, but see me next year" and send citizens off with a smile. He had a way with people that could transcend party affiliations, gender differences, and ethnicity. He was known for not making enemies. At a time when women were beginning to have a presence in Colorado politics, he would take the time to provide background and explanations to them and push them out in front to be recognized. He was a good listener and had good sense of humor and a strong sense of ethics. At times he was regarded as a fatherly figure because he was not be afraid to tap other legislators on the shoulder to remind them of inappropriate behavior or an out-of-control ego.

His wife says that during their 37 years of marriage, he had "a mystical connection with people, was honest and compassionate." His leadership came from a desire to raise the level of public discussion and civility -- and most importantly, by setting an example. "He always felt it humbling just to be elected." Upon his death while in office, the State of Colorado proclaimed that "he was beloved by members of both houses and the General Assembly, legislative staff, and Colorado citizens for his fundamental sense of fairness, his common sense, his sense of humor, his willingness to help others in pursuits both large and small, his ability to connect with so many different people on so many different levels, his enthusiasm for life, and his love of the General Assembly, the state of Colorado, and its people."

Grampsas underwent surgery for a brain tumor in 1996 and returned to work within 10 days. In 1999, he died of renal cancer. He was considered by the State Legislature to be "one of the most powerful individuals in Colorado state government for the better part of two decades, never forgetting his roots and never losing his faith in public service as a way to make the promise of America real for all of its citizens."

Tony was Evergreen's "own" because he was the first person elected from the mountain area, and could be seen at nearly every public function in Evergreen. He is credited with "straightening out the road to Evergreen," the winding two-lane section of Hwy. 74 that led from I-70 to Bergen Park, bypassed in the 1990s with the four-lane Evergreen Parkway. He was not afraid to face hard decisions such as this when others fought making Evergreen more accessible; for Tony, the road was a public safety issue.

Dedications to Tony include a sculpture at the Evergreen Library entitled "Summer Reading, a tree planted in his memory at the library, a bench by the pond near the Buchanan Rec Center, and a bench at Hiwan Golf Club. Amongst the many tributes to Tony throughout the State, his family is proudest of a grove of 12 oak trees at the Colorado School of Mines planted in his honor while he was still alive (one for each year he served in the House), the Tony Grampsas Sports Complex in Golden, and the Tony Grampsas Urologic Oncology Clinic at the University of Colorado.

Sources: State of Colorado archives, widow Sandy Grampsas