|Birth: ||Apr. 20, 1930|
|Death: ||Jan. 15, 2009|
Longtime Denver native, Connie Peck Blake, age 78, died January 15th, following a long and brave fight with COPD. Connie, who also happened to be my mother, acknowledged that her illness was caused by years of heavy smoking, and urged any of her later visitors who smoked to immediately try to kick the habit which had been her undoing. Those who regularly read my column may remember an article that informed that those seeking to quit needed only to call on the Colorado Quit Line, at 1-800- QUIT-NOW to receive free nicotine patches and telephone counseling, a combination that has lead to nearly 40% of those who called quitting on their first attempt, nearly 10 times more successful than the those who attempted to quit on their own.
Her funeral, held on Monday January 19th, a date deliberately chosen to coincide with the birthdate of her son John, was open casket. Her appearance in the casket was disappointing because her facial expression was unsmiling. Disappointing because those who knew her well, knew that even when she was struggling for breath and in great pain, her ability to remain upbeat and smiling, even to the end, inspired no small amount of awe.
John Blake, my younger brother, preceded Connie in death. His death was the result of a climbing accident on HorsetoothMountain near Fort Collins. A memorial cross placed in his memory in the park lead to a well publicized controversy when an atheist group sought to have the cross removed in 1997. The family's belief that John would greet his mother as she crossed over was a comfort to the family.
Connie was born in Denver, Colorado on April 20, 1930 in the midst of the Great Depression. Her family lived on South Odgen Street near WashingtonPark. Her younger brother and my uncle, Reverend John Richard Peck of Nashville, Tennessee, conducted her memorial service. Uncle Rich wished to remember Connie, not as the "frail woman struggling to breath," but rather as the talented "17-year-old gymnast performing at South High Purple and White Day.." More than a simple gymnast, Connie performed acrobatics that allowed her to be more properly labeled a "contortionist."
Always willing to do her part, Connie participated in the many scrap and bond drives held during the Second World War. Her oldest brother served in the South Pacific. She was beloved by her fellows in the South High School Class of 1948, several of whom spoke at her funeral, including a woman who considered Connie her best friend, a woman who had transferred to South High in her Senior year, an awkward time for an adolescent to move and attempt to make new friends.
Although she was occasionally a church secretary and secretary/administrator of Arco Power Systems (the builders of the first megawatt sized solar power plant in the United States) for a period of two years, most of her life was spent as a housewife and mother, a role she relished. One of her last comments to Floyd Blake, her husband of nearly 59 years, was that she had had a good and happy life and did not fear death. For Floyd she was a wonderful helpmate and mother to his children, a role that allowed Floyd to become not only a successful aerospace scientist but also one of the real pioneers of solar energy.
The old saying that when an old man dies it is as if a library burns down, also applied to Connie. Her life was full of rich stories which we struggle now to try to remember but know that many are lost forever. While the current and future generations will only know of Denver's unique amusement park, Elitch's, in its current downtown location, I will see her in my mind's eye dancing in perfection to the sounds of Big Band, Swing and the other music of the day, to dances which are dying as rapidly as the remnant of the Greatest generation which hangs on.
Denver and Colorado underwent great change during Connie's lifetime. During her birth year, 1930, Colorado first surpassed a population of over a million. According to Census figures, Colorado's population is currently estimated at very nearly five times that amount. Of course, figures fail to give a complete picture of that change. During most of her life the D&F tower on the 16th Street Mall, was the tallest structure in the state. Highlands Ranch was just that, a ranch.
It was a Denver in which a young girl felt perfectly safe riding all alone on the rails (which are just now and at great expense being recreated) to Golden and Boulder and points all over the then much smaller Denver area. She also recalled that the Denver she knew back then was cooler and less dry than the Denver of today. She remembered skating on the lake at WashingtonPark, when winters were cold enough that the ice was thick enough to safely skate all winter long. These days no sane person would consider skating on WashingtonParkLake at any point in a typical winter. She also recalled that almost every summer day was punctuated by an afternoon shower, a phenomenon that rarely occurs these days.
Uncle Rich also related how Connie's artistic talents (in the form of hand-painted pottery and china and amazingly complex and beautiful jig-saw puzzles) are on display in homes not only in Colorado but throughout the nation. Yet it is the legacy of love and friendship for which she will be most remembered and missed.
Created by: ACSwanson
Record added: Aug 29, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 57849669