Robert Hoag Rawlings, chairman & editor of The Pueblo Chieftain

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Robert Hoag Rawlings, 92, chairman and editor of The Pueblo Chieftain, died March 24, 2017, of natural causes. The legendary newspaperman, philanthropist and community advocate spent 37 years as publisher and editor before becoming chairman of Star-Journal Publishing Corp. this year. He worked at The Chieftain and its former sister publication, The Pueblo Star-Journal, for 70 years.

After taking over the newspapers following the death of his uncle, Frank Hoag Jr. in 1980, Rawlings led the fight for water flowing into Pueblo from Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River, with the newsroom and editorial writers publishing thousands of stories on the topic, earning numerous state and regional awards for both reporting and editorials.

As noted in an article by The Associated Press: “Rawlings used the editorial pages to advocate for Pueblo and southeastern Colorado. He fought to protect institutions such as Colorado State University-Pueblo and the Colorado State Fair, but was known best for his battle to protect the quantity and quality of water in the Pueblo area.”

Reported Chieftain Managing Editor Steve Henson: “As a direct result of Rawlings’ efforts, Northern Colorado communities that tried to buy water rights from the Arkansas River Valley were thwarted or forced to accept numerous conditions such as financial payments to government and revegetation of lands dried up. Also, thanks mostly to Rawlings, the Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District was approved by voters to likewise fight to protect the area’s water.

“It is also safe to say that many significant projects – such as the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo, several multi-million dollar school bond issues, and the acquisition of university status for the University of Southern Colorado, now Colorado State University-Pueblo – might not have taken place without the constant advocacy for and support of Rawlings and The Chieftain.”

With an interest in politics, Rawlings became friends with governors, U.S. senators and members of Congress, and worked with many city council members, county commissioners and school board members as he worked tirelessly to make Pueblo and southeastern Colorado a better place.

He also donated $4 million to help boost a new voter-approved main library project, sponsored the semi-professional baseball teams the Bighorns and the Chieftains, was a founding member of the Friends of Football (a local group that brought football back to CSU-Pueblo), funded construction of the Rawlings fields at CSU-Pueblo, and supported the university in numerous other ways.

Rawlings was born in Pueblo on Aug. 3, 1924, to John and Dorothy Hoag Rawlings. He grew up in Las Animas and graduated from Bent County High School there in 1942. Always competitive, Rawlings was an accomplished athlete whose high school basketball team won a state championship. He was good at baseball, tennis and golf – which he played into his mid-80s.

Rawlings went to Colorado College in Colorado Springs in the fall of 1942; in December he enlisted in the U.S. Navy V-12 at the college. The next year, he was transferred to the Navy ROTC unit at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he received a commission as an ensign in the Navy.

During World War II in the South Pacific he served as a supply officer, and later executive officer of the Subchaser 648, in Leyte Gulf, Mindanao, Subic Bay and Manila in the Philippines, and Brunei Bay and Kuching in the province of Sarawak, Borneo.

When the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, he helped liberate more than 100 British and Dutch officers who had been in a prisoner of war camp near Kuching for five years. Wrote Henson: “He often said that was the most difficult experience of his life, and he remained a patriot and supporter of the U.S. military throughout his life.”

In July 1946, Rawlings received an honorable discharge from the Navy and returned to Colorado College. He graduated in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in economics.

Later that year, Rawlings began his journalism career as a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain and The Pueblo Star-Journal. In 1951, he became an advertising salesman for the two newspapers; in 1962 he was named general manager.

In January of 1980, he was appointed publisher and editor, and in 1984 Rawlings was elected chairman and editor of The Star-Journal Publishing Corporation. Until very recently, he worked seven days a week, focusing on the editorial board he led, but also very active in the day-to-day operations.

Rawlings married Sandy Graham on Oct. 18, 1947. The couple had four children: Jane Louise Rawlings (David Dill) of Pueblo, John Graham Rawlings (Jan) of San Diego, Calif., Carolyn “Callie” Temple (Ken) of Durango, and Robert Hoag Rawlings Jr. (Amy Titus) of Ashland, Ore. Jane Rawlings became publisher of The Chieftain earlier this year, carrying on her father’s strong community advocacy legacy.

Rawlings was a past chairman of the board of the Colorado Press Association, and president in 1985-1986. He was also a member and past chairman of the Colorado Bar-Press Committee, past president of the Rocky Mountain Ad Manager’s Association, and past president of The Colorado Associated Press.

He was a past chairman of the Advisory Board of Colorado National Bank-Pueblo (now US Bank), a member of the Air Force Academy Foundation and the University of Southern Colorado Foundation, chairman of the Medal of Honor Memorial Committee, and president of The Robert Hoag Rawlings Foundation and the Southern Colorado Community Foundation.

Rawlings is survived by his four children; eight grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren and cousins. Rawlings’ wife Sandy preceded him in death in May 2013; a brother, Col. John W. “Jack” Rawlings (Ret), a sister, Dorothy “Dorty” Nelson, and cousins Louise Evans Farr and Frank “Bud” Evans also preceded him in death.

A viewing and funeral service for Rawlings took place at First Presbyterian Church, Pueblo, on March 30. Military honors and interment took place at Roselawn Cemetery, Pueblo.

Edwin Lynn Wolff, former reporter, editorial writer for The Denver Post

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Edwin Lynn Wolff, 92, died Feb. 23, 2017, at his home at The Academy in Boulder, Colo. He was born in New York City Nov. 26, 1924, to Samuel Edwin Wolff and Adeline Moses Wolff. He grew up in Tulsa, Okla., and Savannah, Ga., and attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale University.

Wolff served in the U.S. Army Corps as a meteorologist. After World War II, he returned to Yale to earn a bachelor’s degree in history in 1950. He earned his master’s degree in English literature at the University of California, Berkeley.

When he graduated, Wolff returned to the east coast to work for the Democratic National Committee during the 1954 elections. He then worked as a reporter in Bayonne, N.J., where he met his first wife. He moved to Colorado when he got a job as staff reporter and editorial writer for The Denver Post.

One story changed his career. In 1961, he was assigned to write about the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder. NCAR’s first director, Dr. Walter Orr Roberts, was so impressed he offered Wolff a job in its executive office, where Wolff worked until his retirement 27 years later.

He also met his second wife, Mary Andrews Wolff, while working there; they were married from 1963 until his death. The couple worked with architect I.M. Pei as he planned the NCAR Mesa Lab later built near the Flatirons in south Boulder.

Wolff loved the outdoors. He learned to ski while on an assignment in Aspen and was also an avid hiker, backpacker, cyclist and runner. He hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, ran in the Bolder Boulder while in his 80s, and cycled with Mary extensively in Colorado, Canada, Ireland, England and France.

He also loved music. He sang and arranged music at Yale, performed with the Whiffenpoofs and the Glee Club while there, and went on to write and study music throughout his life. He was a founding member of New Wizard Oil Combination, a men’s singing group in the Boulder-Denver area, and served as president of the board of both the Boulder Philharmonic and the Colorado Music Festival.

In retirement, Wolff concentrated on music composition. He wrote several hundred arrangements for a cappella vocal groups of various sizes, compositions of chamber music, songs for solo voice, and a piece for the Wizards and the Boulder Philharmonic. His work has been performed by various groups across the country.

He is survived by his wife Mary; daughter Elizabeth Wolff; son Robert Wolff (Allison); stepchildren Linda Andrews Cowan (Jeff), Kent Andrews (Leslie Winter), and Lesley Andrews (Mariko Hirano); five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A celebration of life is planned for June 11, 2017, 10:30 a.m. in the Chapel at The Academy, 970 Aurora Ave., Boulder. All are welcome (paisley clothing optional).

Dale Edward Lashnits, former Aurora Sentinel reporter

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Dale Edward Lashnits, 71, died March 11, 2017, after a long battle with cancer. He was born in Stamford, Conn., and grew up in the eastern and northeastern United States. He attended the Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J., studied English at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and earned his degree from Ricker College in Houlton, Maine.

Lashnits came out west to settle in Denver and met his wife Cheryl, to whom he was married for 42 years. He worked as a reporter for the Aurora Sentinel, in public relations for the Colorado State Parks Department, and for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, where he became chief of public relations.

He was a popular colleague, literally whistling while he worked. He had a huge appetite for reading and enjoyed historical narratives. He enjoyed playing softball and collecting baseball cards and was a lifelong fan of the Baltimore Orioles.

He is survived by his wife; daughter Dayre (Brian); sons Dirk (Andrea) and Teague; three grandchildren; and his dog, Zelda. There was no service. Donations were directed to MaxFund or a no-kill animal shelter of choice.

Dewey Willis Wheeler, former printer for The Denver Post

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Dewey Willis Wheeler, 88, died March 24, 2017. He was born April 24, 1928, in Lugerville, Wis., and grew up there. Moving to Chicago, Ill., he began his lifelong career in the printing industry at the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times and met his wife, Lorraine.

He served in the U.S. Army Air Force as an aircraft armorer during World War II, Alaska being his favorite station. After his service, he returned to Chicago and married in September 1951. Wheeler, his wife, and their two young children, daughter Sharon and son Wayne, then moved to Colorado.

Wheeler became the rotogravure supervisor for The Denver Post’s Empire Magazine. He left The Post to become a TV Guide regional production manager, where he retired.

Living in Golden, the family added two more children. Fully involved with all his children, Wheeler was the dad in a Santa suit, and the timekeeper for their gymkhana horse races and son’s track events. He loved family camping and fishing trips, gardening, and doing handyman and construction projects – like firing up his tractors and plowing his neighbors’ driveways when they were full of snow.

He was a scientist and engineer at heart, arming P-51 Mustangs at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, serving as a firefighter, working in ink chemistry, and designing solar heat for his prized tomatoes. He helped establish the Applewood Mesa Volunteer Fire Department and became fire chief. He was also a Knights of Columbus 4th Degree member.

He is survived by his wife; daughters Sharon and Eileen; sons Wayne (Rose) and Keith; five grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter. His parents, Dewey and Vesta Sheeler, sisters Geraldine Tarcon and Viola Allen, and brother Harold preceded him in death.

A visitation and rosary took place March 30 at Mount Olivet Chapel, Wheat Ridge, Colo., with funeral services at St. Joseph’s Parish in Golden on March 31. Memorial donations were directed to the American Diabetes Association.