Percy Allen Conarroe died peacefully in his sleep in Louisville, Colo., on June 15, 2013 with his loving wife, Carolyn, at his side. He was 86.
Born March 3, 1927, he was the son of Lawrence and Grace (Allen) Conarroe. Percy grew up in Calhan, Colo., a few miles south of the quarter section of land his paternal grandfather, William Conarroe, homesteaded on the eastern plains near Fondis starting in 1898. Percy’s maternal great-grandfather, Victor Weinlich, homesteaded south of Calhan starting in 1886 and helped found the town.
At age 15, Percy played alto saxophone for the touring dance band The George Bates Foot-Stompers, and was offered a gig in the big band circuit in Chicago but decided to stay home and finish high school. A debilitating car accident at age 17, caused by a truck driving on the wrong side of the road, left Percy with one lung which made him ineligible for military duty, but he continued to play saxophone into his early 80s.
Percy did not go to college, but he worked to become one of the most acclaimed editorial writers in Colorado. He started his journalism career in 1948 at the Calhan News. He later purchased and published the Simla Pike View Farmer (now known as the Ranchland News) from 1952 to 1965, and during that time advocated and lobbied for adequate rural health care.
Owner, editor and publisher of the Louisville Times, Lafayette News and Erie Review from 1965 to 1997, Percy never backed down from a political battle because he felt that any local newspaper worth its salt should get involved in local controversies. He helped form the Louisville Chamber of Commerce and was a key figure in helping bring Storage Technology Corp. to Louisville in 1969. He worked every day with courage and passion to make Louisville, Lafayette and Erie well-planned, economically vital communities.
During his 50-year journalism career, Percy mentored — he called it “Percy’s Imperfect Newspaper Training School” — dozens of budding Colorado journalists, including those who later became executives, editors and reporters at Ogden Publications, Dolan Media, Reader’s Digest, Wall Street Journal, Crain’s Business Weekly, Knight-Ridder News Service, Asia Inc. magazine, The Denver Post, The Pueblo Chieftain, the Denver Business Journal, Johnstown Breeze and many others. He was a past president and an honorary lifetime member of Colorado Press Association. In 1992, he was named CPA Newspaper Person of the Year. He also served as mayor and town trustee of Simla, volunteered for the Simla Volunteer Fire Department for 10 years and was a 48-year member of Lions International.
In 1950, he married Carolyn Jeannette Morris in New Carlisle, Ohio. They worked side-by-side in the family newspaper businesses and, after retirement, moved from Louisville to Erie, then later settled in Longmont.
As was the case with his professional career, he especially loved rooting for the underdog, so the Denver Broncos were his favorite team — until they started winning.
He was preceded in death by his sisters, Olive Thayer and Shirleen Banuelos, and a daughter, Catherine. In addition to his wife of 63 years, he is survived by his sons David Conarroe (Judy) and Doug Conarroe (Dana Coffield), and his daughter, Cynthia Conarroe Campbell (Mike), four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Despite wielding a fiery pen, Percy was a kind, caring, gentle, humble and jovial man even in his last hours. He was a loving father, grandfather and husband and spent a lifetime gleefully lecturing his offspring about conservative politics and good government while at the dinner table and at family gatherings. He will be dearly missed.
Entombment was at Coal Creek Memorial Cemetery in Louisville. A memorial will be held June 28 at 10 a.m. at Longs Peak United Methodist Church, 1421 Elmhurst Dr. in Longmont.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that you either write a letter to the editor about something you care about or send a donation to TRU Community Care hospice, 2594 Trailridge Drive East, Lafayette, CO 80026.