John Tracy

Newspaperman, world traveler, adventure seeker

He lived a ‘bountiful’ life

Posted 8/8/17

Saint Patrick’s Day. Fourth of July. Halloween.

For any day of the year, John Tracy had an appropriate tie.

“He has hundreds of ties, none of them traditional. Multiple ties for every holiday and occasion,” said Audrey Brooks, the …

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John Tracy

Newspaperman, world traveler, adventure seeker

He lived a ‘bountiful’ life

Posted

Saint Patrick’s Day. Fourth of July. Halloween.

For any day of the year, John Tracy had an appropriate tie.

“He has hundreds of ties, none of them traditional. Multiple ties for every holiday and occasion,” said Audrey Brooks, the business manager for Colorado Community Media, the publishing company for the Golden Transcript, who met Tracy when she started with the company in August 2004. “I remember about 10 years ago, he was trying to clean out some old ties so he’d have room in his closet for more.”

Tracy started out by bringing them to the Golden Transcript’s office and let the newspaper’s employees have their pick.

“He brought them into the conference room and spread them out on the table,” Brooks said. “There were hundreds of them — and those were just the ones he was getting rid of.”

Tracy, 73, died Aug. 1 after being hospitalized for the past two weeks for a variety of health problems.

He is survived by his wife Jane, three children, two step-children, nine grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

A career founded in community

Tracy started a 30-year career with the Golden Transcript as the marketing director in 1987. Through the years, he held the title of general manager, associate publisher and manager of special projects — the last of which he held to present day.

In an interview last year for the Golden Transcript’s 150th anniversary, Tracy recalled how he had watched downtown Golden change through the years that he worked at the paper. And how residents turned to the Transcript to learn about pros and cons of issues, as well as voice their opinions through letters to the editor.

“It belongs to the community,” Tracy said of the paper. “The Transcript has always been a part of the community.”

Many would say the same about Tracy.

He seemed to know everybody and attend every community event, former Golden City Manager Mike Bestor said.

Tracy was one of the first people Bestor met when he moved to Golden to assume his role as city manager. On his second day on the job, in December 1993, Bestor stopped into the Golden Transcript and met Tracy for the first time.

“He certainly taught me the value of being well connected to the community,” Bestor said.

Leslie Klane, president and CEO of the Golden Chamber of Commerce, also has fond memories of Tracy.

“John was the first person who befriended me when I accepted my position with the chamber two years ago,” she said. “His wisdom and guidance was always offered, always in kindness, and is something I will cherish.”

Jerry Healey, publisher of Colorado Community Media, met Tracy about six years agoand quickly came to understand his indelible presence and legacy in the Transcript and the Golden-area communities.

“John was a difference-maker and anyone able to hear his life stories knew instantly that this man lived a great and full life,” Healey said. “We will miss him at the newspaper in too many ways to count.”

‘We shared a lot’

Tracy met his third wife, Jane, 30 years ago when she was working as a secretary for the Lakewood/Wheat Ridge Chamber of Commerce.

“I noticed he was a very nice guy,” she said.

Later, she attended a business after-hours event and Tracy was there. Although it was a little out of character for her, she said, she went up to Tracy and said, “Why don’t you ask me out for out for a drink sometime?”

He did. The two talked and watched a folk singer perform at a small venue in Lakewood. Tracy then called her a number of times to ask her to accompany him on a ski trip, but she wasn’t a skier and always declined. In the spring of 1987, they finally had their first real date — a drive through Golden Gate State Park.

“We both agreed we had a magnetism, and it just continued on from there,” Jane said. “We’ve done a lot together. We shared a lot.”

Tracy was born on Oct. 5, 1943, in Helena, Montana, and spent his elementary years in Juneau, Alaska. Because of rheumatic fever, Tracy didn’t attend school full-time until he was in the seventh grade. Tracy graduated from Westminster High School and attended University of Colorado-Boulder on a full scholarship, majoring in civil engineering.

In his late teens, he was told he would not live to be 20 years old, because of his early illnesses, Jane said.

“So the challenge of completing his climbs on all of Colorado’s 14ers become even more meaningful to him,” she said.

Besides climbing the state’s tallest mountains,Tracy also was a world traveler — something he was very proud of — visiting 81 countries over his lifetime, Jane said. He had a pilot’s license and flew often in the late 1970s.

Just because they were there, and because they were different, Tracy would travel to all the unique spots that most people wouldn’t go to, Jane said. One such trip was a visit to see a giant crane — Big Brutus, which is a regional historic mechanical engineering landmark dedicated to the mining heritage of southeast Kansas.

One time, Jane said, Tracy even helped police apprehend a bank robber.

It must have been in the early 1990s, Jane remembered, because big cell phones were still the norm. He noticed the robbery in progress while in the drive-up teller line at the bank and followed the robber in his car, all the while keeping in touch with police on the cell phone.

“He was probably one of the first crime-stoppers,” she said. He went on to complete the Lakewood Police Department’s Citizens Academy.

A full life in newspapers and community

He entered the newspaper industry in 1973 at the age of 30, with Sentinel newspapers, which published the Trancript at the time. Later, Tracy and business partner Bill Armstrong started their own newspapers with separate editions covering Lakewood, Green Mountain, Applewood and Wheat Ridge.The two sold them in 1980.

Seven years later, he joined the Transcript.

“John was probably the best listener you’ll ever know. He had a calming demeanor and a way of negotiating and solving problems,” said Barb Stolte, a long-time colleague of Tracy’s and a Colorado Community Media marketing and community engagement specialist. “He was always positive. You never heard any negativity from him.”

Transcript Editor Glenn Wallace agreed.

“John was unfailingly kind, hardworking and helpful,” Wallace said. “He was a guiding light to folks like myself that had joined the family in the last few years.”

Tracy received much recognition and a litany of awards from various community organizations, including the Golden Rotary Club and the Golden Chamber of Commerce. He was one of the West Chamber’s original lifetime members, and two years ago, he was honored in its Hall of Fame. Tracy was also one of the originators of the Applewood Business Association.

He was named a Living Landmark by the Golden Landmarks Association in 2011, and he and Jane were grand marshals in the Buffalo Bill Days 2016 Best of the West Parade.

As attested to by the myriad awards he received, daily life was never slow.

“You should’ve seen his calendars,” Jane said. “He kept two of them.”

One was his personal calendar, with haircut and oil change appointments on it. The other was his business calendar to keep track of all the luncheons, banquets and ribbon-cuttings he attended.

In his free time, he enjoyed photography and hiking. He was an impressive gardener, Jane said, and grew all sorts of colorful flowers — geraniums, petunias, dahlias, lilies. He eventually also started growing vegetables, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers.

“A happy and good life evolved between us. We gave each other freedom to pursue our separate passions, all the while sharing in mutual interests and adventures,” Jane said. “My gratitude is expressed for everything we shared — the blessings were truly bountiful.”

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