Elvin R. Caldwell: City Council President, Activist, Community Leader

When: 1919 – 2004 Where: Denver, Colorado Why Important: First African-American City Council Member West of the Mississippi, Civil Rights advocate, policy-maker, and life-long community leader and organizer. Biography Elvin R. Caldwell was born in Denver on April 11, 1919 and grew up in the historic Five Points neighborhood, which was a predominantly black neighborhood at […]

Helen Bonfils: Denver Post Co Owner & Philanthropist

When: 1889-1972 Where: Peekskill, N.Y. Why Important: Co-owner of the Denver Post, Philanthropist, Established the Denver Center of the Performing Arts Biography Helen Bonfils was born on November 26, 1889 in Peekskill, New York. Her father, Frederick Bonfils, bought the struggling Denver Post newspaper with H.H. Tammen in 1895 and moved his family to Denver, […]

John Denver: Singer and Songwriter

When: 1943-1997 Where: Aspen, Colorado Why Important: Award winning musician, singer and activist. Biography John Denver was born on December 31, 1943 in Roswell, New Mexico. His real name was Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. Around the age of twenty, he changed his name to “John Denver” after his favorite state’s (Colorado) capital. John’s father was […]

Mamie Eisenhower: First Lady and Humanitarian

When: 1896-1979 Where: Born in Iowa; grew up in Colorado Springs and Denver Why Important: Humanitarian and wife of President Dwight Eisenhower Biography Mamie Geneva Doud was born with a heart condition, and her older sister had asthma. In an effort to improve the girls’ health, their father moved the family from Iowa and eventually settled in […]

Dr. Florence Rena Sabin: Doctor and Medical Reformer

When: 1871 – 1953 Where: Central City and Denver Why Important: Dr. Sabin was the first female medical professor at Johns Hopkins as well as a major medical reformer in Colorado. She also was the first female member of the National Academy of Sciences and first female physician-scientist at Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. Biography Florence Rena Sabin was […]

Federico Peña: Mayor of Denver

When: 1947 – Present Where: Born in Laredo, Texas, moved to Denver Why Important: First Hispanic mayor, helped build a new airport, served as Secretary of Transportation under President Clinton, preserved art and history, and restored buildings in Denver. Biography Federico was born in Laredo, Texas in 1947. He went to law school at the University of Texas […]

Justina Ford: Denver’s First Female African American Doctor

When: 1871 – 1952 Where: Born in Knoxville, Illinois, moved to Chicago and then to Denver Why Important: Justina Ford overcame prejudice and discrimination to become Denver’s first female African-American doctor. Ford was a pioneer in opening up a profession for African-Americans and women Biography Justina Laurena Warren was born on January 22, 1871 in Knoxville, Illinois. […]

Josephine Roche: Police Woman and Labor Advocate

When: 1886 – 1976 Where: Born in Nebraska and educated in New York, she moved to Denver in 1906 Why Important: Labor advocate, businesswoman, and Denver’s first female police officer Biography Josephine Roche was the first policewoman in Colorado,[footnote]“Miss Roche is Now a Deputy Sheriff.” Salida Mail, May 13, 1913. CHNC[/footnote] the first woman to run a major coal company, […]

Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.: Silent Film Actor

When: 1883-1939 Where: Born and raised in Denver Why Important: Well-loved silent film actor and star of swashbuckling favorites such as Robin Hood (1922) and The Mark of Zorro (1920). Biography Douglas Fairbanks, the “King of Hollywood,” was born Douglas Elton Ulman in Denver. As a child, he demonstrated the wild, devil-may-care attitude that would later become his […]

Glenn Miller: Musician and Bandleader

When: 1904-1944 Where: Fort Morgan and Boulder, CO Why Important: Musician/Bandleader Biography Glenn Miller was one of the most popular musicians of the Big Band era. He was born Alton Glenn Miller in Iowa in 1904. Throughout his childhood, his family moved frequently, first to Nebraska, then to Missouri, then finally to Fort Morgan, Colorado during Miller’s […]

Mary McDonough Coyle Chase: Journalist, Playwright, Screenwriter

When: 1906-1981 Where: Denver, CO Why Important: Journalist and nationally-known playwright Biography Mary McDonough Coyle Chase lived in Denver her entire life. At age 18, she was hired as a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News. She gained a reputation as a talented writer and was soon promoted to columnist. At the News she met and married […]

Judy Collins: Grammy-Winning Musician, Singer and Activist

When: 1939-Present Where: Denver, CO Why Important: Grammy-winning Musician, Singer and Activist Biography Judy Collins is most famous for her singing and musical career. She has been a musician for over 40 years. She has released more than 40 albums and has had numerous top-10 hits, Grammy nominations, and gold and platinum-selling albums. Collins moved with her family […]

Golda Meir: Prime Minister of Israel

When: 1898-1978 Where: Denver, CO Why Important: Prime Minister of Israel Biography A child of Jewish parents, Golda was born in Kiev, Russia. The family migrated to America when Meir was nine.[footnote]“Passing Show.” Record Journal of Douglas, August 13, 1948. CHNC [/footnote] Determined to get an education, Meir ran away from her parents’ home in Milwaukee to live with […]

Marilyn Van Derbur Atler: Miss America 1958

When: 1937-Present Where: Born and raised in Denver, CO Why Important: Miss America 1958, public speaker, and advocate for victims of sexual abuse Biography Marilyn Van Derbur was crowned Miss America in 1958. She was one of the most popular women to hold the title. She held the title of Miss America for one year.[footnote]Douglas County News, August […]

John “Jack” Swigert: Astronaut, Congressman

When: 1931-1982 Where: Born and raised in Denver, CO Why Important: One of 24 people who have flown to the moon; Elected to U.S. Congress Biography Confronted with the grave peril of outer space, John “Jack” Swigert, Jr. demonstrated a courage and heroism that defies the human spirit. Jack was a member of the Apollo 13 crew […]

Ben Nighthorse Campbell

Where: California; Ignacio and Denver, Colorado; Washington, D.C. Why Important: U.S. Senator, Jewelry Designer, Rancher Biography When Ben Nighthorse Campbell served as one of Colorado’s U.S. Senators from 1993 to 2005, he was the only Native American serving in Congress and the first American Indian to serve in the U.S. Senate in more than 60 years. Benny […]

Susan Anderson, Mountain Doctor

When: 1870 – 1960 Where: Born in Indiana, and later moved to Cripple Creek, Denver, Greeley, & Fraser, Colorado Why Important: One of Colorado’s earliest women doctors Biography Susan Anderson, often known as “Doc Susie,” was born in 1870 in Indiana. Her father and mother had divorced, and Susan lived with her father, a farmer, and her […]

Robert Speer, Denver’s “City Beautiful” Mayor

When: 1856 – 1918 Where: Denver, Colorado Why Important: Mayor who worked to beautify Denver Biography Born in Cassville, Pennsylvania in 1856, Robert W. Speer decided to move to Colorado when he was 23 years old. He was suffering from tuberculosis, a disease of the lungs that was very common at the time, especially in industrial areas. […]