Denver is a duller city today.
Dennis Gallagher died Friday, April 22, after a short illness. He was 82. The word spread quickly through this city where he was born and raised, this city he had dedicated his life to serve. He did so everywhere from the Colorado Legislature to the Denver City Council to the Denver Auditor’s Office, from classrooms to coffee houses.
Gallagher grew up in northern Denver and graduated from Regis University, where he occasionally taught for forty years after obtaining a master’s degree from the Catholic University of America in 1967. Just three years later, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly, where he made his mark with the Gallagher Amendment, a 1982 measure that voters repealed in 2020 … an act that many of them regretted as soon as they opened their last property tax bill.
“Be honest with the people,” Gallagher called back in the spring of 2020, after lawmakers put this repeal proposal on the ballot. “How much more do you want homeowners to pay so business people can pay less?”
At the time, he was officially, finally out of public office – most recently the Denver Auditor’s Office, where he had served since 2003 after eight years on the city council, two mayoral candidates and 22 years on the Legislature. But he was still always out in public, where he hosted his St. Patrick’s Day celebration, offered tours of cemeteries and other places around the city, and thought of almost everything, with the vain Irish wit and great, deep voice.
He apparently knew everything about Denver and everyone in it, past and present. I was so lucky to play Crusade Reporter Polly Pry for his Mayor Robert Speer in one Colorado from within The Time Machine episode from 1917 for PBS12 (see it below), and he was always ready with an insightful, often entertaining opinion on more current events when I contacted him for an actual story. I was one of his retirees in 2015, and appreciated the much more knowledgeable job he did when he fried his longtime friend and colleague Tom Noel last year.
Dennis Gallagher’s family announced his passing on his Facebook page. “It is with heavy hearts and deep sorrow that we regret to inform you that Dennis Gallagher died from this life Friday night. Dennis passed peacefully in his sleep. As a greater presence, not only in our family, but in the greater community in Denver, the depth of our losses cannot be fully expressed. “
This page is topped with the words “Gallagher’s World” in his perfect, precise writing art and now filled below with messages from those he touched.
Dennis Gallagher’s world was this city. And for so many, he was this city.