Dr. B. L. Jefferson, Pioneer Physician Laid To Rest In Steamboat Cemetery; One of Most Widely Known Men in State
Came To Routt County In Early Days And Held Many Positions of Trust – Head of State Home for Last 20 Years
In brief by impressive service Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Benjamin L. JEFFERSON, pioneer Routt county physician and great humanitarian, was laid to rest in the Steamboat Springs cemetery. Funeral services were held in Denver Monday and only a graveside service was held here.
Rev. C.W. Broomell gave the brief graveside remarks and was eloquent in his simplicity in marking the passing of his long time friend.
Walt W. WALKER, publisher of the Grand Junction Sentinel, and a group of other close friends came here for the service. Richard DOWNING brought Mrs. JEFFERSON from Denver, and several other friends came from there.
Dr. JEFFERSON died in a Denver hospital Friday afternoon after being seriously ill since early in April. He made his last visit to Steamboat late in March.
Dr. JEFFERSON was born in Columbus, Georgia, on October 26, 1871, the son of Rollin JEFFERSON and Metta Virginia (Harp) JEFFERSON. He was educated at the University of Maryland, and received there the degrees of A. B., M. D. and D. D. S. He came to Colorado in 1892, and for three years practiced at Littleton, after which time he moved to Hayden and Steamboat Springs. This was before the day of automobiles, and Dr. JEFFERSON gained fame as a local physician for whom no horse and buggy trip was too trying or difficult, of thereby he could help someone who was sick.
During his residence in Routt County, he was sent to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1898, and in 1900 was elected State Senator and served eight years.
In 1909 he was made Register of the Colorado State Land Board, and served until June 1913, when he was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Nicaragua by his close personal friend, President Woodrow WILSON.
During his term as Register of the State Land Board, Dr. JEFFERSON displayed marked administrative ability. He did much to encourage the development of Colorado resources, and at the same time, by judicious planning, largely increased the State School Fund. He originated the plan whereby the State reserved the mineral rights in sales of public lands.
In 1910 he sought the Democratic nomination as Governor. His opponent was Governor John F SHAFROTH, at the time a political power. The result was very close, and Dr. JEFFERSON was beaten for the nomination only by a last minute switch of the delegation from one county. Notwithstanding the bitter political fight, Governor SHAFROTH during January, 1911, again appointed Dr. J EFFERSON as Register of the State Land Board.
Dr. JEFFERSON served as Minister to Nicaragua for about nine years. He gained the confidence of the Nicaraguan people to an extent not known before or since. He won their friendship for the United States and was the arbiter in many of their own disputes. At the time William Jennings BRYAN was Secretary of State, and he and Dr. JEFFERSON became fast friends.
At the conclusion of his term, he returned to Denver. In 1922 he was again candidate for Governor, but was beaten in the Primary by Governor SWEET. In February, 1931, he was appointed by Governor Billy ADAMS as Superintendent of the Home for Mental Defectives at Grand Junction. Governor ADAMS had quite a job to persuade Dr. JEFFERSON to take over. But when he did finally take charge, he did so with the firm conviction that this was to be his life’s work. From that time until he was fatally stricken, he worked an average of sixteen hours a day, practically without any vacation. At any time, day or night, he was subject to call, in case any of his “boys or girls” needed him. He loved them and they loved him. His work was outstanding. Not only did he help make thousands of better boys and girls, but every legislative session saw him in Denver, fighting and begging for the money necessary to improve his physical plant. For years he fought to have the State erect a building for epilepties at Grand Junction. He succeeded in getting the necessary appropriation at the last Legislature. The building is now nearing completion.
When Dr. JEFFERSON took charge at Grand Junction, there were something like 250 patients. Now there are 530. The patients are not only children, but grown men and women. They include not only those whose mental faculties are clouded, but in many cases are totally defective. Dr. JEFFERSON’s job was not only to care for the hopeless, but to improve the condition of all the others. As the result of his care and treatment, he was sent back hundreds to their homes or fiends, where they live more or less normal lives. Dr. JEFFERSON’s illness has been reflected in the attitude of his patients. Their good doctor has bene uppermost in the minds of all. They have prayed for his recovery. Flowers have been collected and sent to his sick room every week. On Father’s Day, every patient looked upon the good doctor as their father.
Dr. JEFFERSON was married twice, first to Clarinte B. DUQUETTE on December 21, 1893; she died in June, 1922, and on October 23, 1923, he married the former Virginia Lowe KEMBLE, who survives him. He had no children. Also surviving him is a brother, Dr. Albert JEFFESON of Columbus, Georgia, and a sister, Mrs. James C. McPHAIL of Richmond, Virginia.
Steamboat Pilot (Steamboat Springs, CO)-July 27, 1950
Clorinte Duquette Jefferson
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