My sister Lynne moved off the planet last week, after a tough fight with worsening symptoms of COPD. I’m sure the Covid isolation contributed to her decline, as it deprived her of so many things she found joyous in her life--visits from family, travel, dinners out with friends, symphony concerts, plays, and of course, shopping.
She could, however, spend lots of time on the phone with friends, and I hope many of you had a chance to visit with her this last year. I will miss my random calls with Lynne. She was usually so ready to chat, to answer my questions about the many legal issues brought forth in the recent news stories. And lately we’ve talked about family history: a recent unpacking of all the boxes I’d inherited from my parents produced so many photos, old documents and memories. I’m glad she had a chance for that fond review.
Lynne was born in Flint, MI, the first child of Helen and Kenneth Hufnagel. She shared her parents with brothers Michael Hufnagel (Corvallis, OR) and Marc Hufnagel (Denver), and sister Trice Hufnagel (Bailey, CO). A German Lutheran upbringing helped form her character--hard work, no excuses! She graduated from Denver Lutheran High School in 1962 and headed out to Pomona College, Clermont, CA, on scholarship. Like me, Lynne was a lover of knowledge and expression, and managed to graduate with so so many humanities credits and an amorphous Comparative Literature degree.
After some substitute teaching, a stint at Denver’s Berlitz Language School (German), and a two-year Peace Corps assignment in Micronesia, she found her way back to the Front Range, looking at University of Denver’s Law School--and there she found her true love. Lynne dedicated most of the rest of her life to that passion, the practice of law in Colorado.
A Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Denver, a Researcher/Consultant and a Project Coordinator for the Colorado Department of Institutions, a Fourth Judicial District Magistrate, a Jefferson County Deputy District Attorney--all these early career experiences prepared Lynne for her appointment as a Second Judicial District Court Judge in 1981. For fifteen years she rotated through the civil, criminal and domestic divisions, finally moving on in 1996 to complete her law career as a Senior Counsel with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. One major contribution was her fight to secure Colorado voting rights: Lynne litigated the case that established a non-partisan election commission to draw equitable political boundaries, doing away with the traditional gerrymandered districts.
Lynne’s many honors include: in 1979, the Bar Association Outstanding Young Lawyer Award, and the first Pat Keller Memorial Award for her significant impact on the well-being of Colorado’s children; in 1982 named one of ten “Outstanding Young Women in America;” in 1985 named one of Denver Magazine’s “People to Watch;” in 1994 the National Institute for Trial Advocacy Faculty Award; and the First Award for Distinguished Service and Leadership, Colorado Trial Judges’ Council, in 1996.
In retirement Lynne applied her talents to political causes and candidates, and enjoyed the company of her parents, her siblings (Mike and Linda Hufnagel, Trice and Louis Gonzalez); her niece (Natalie Gonzalez in East Palo Alto); nephews (Max Gonzalez and Tessa Alford in Ventura; Dr. Ben and Noelle Hufnagel with Dillon, Claire and Zach in Bayfield, CO; Dr. David and Alejandra Hufnagel with Vanessa, Daniel and Sophia in Corvallis) and their families. Her circle of friends was large and her generosity and witty companionship were shared with many in her last years.
While I truly wish my sister had stayed here with us longer, I acknowledge how much of herself she gave to the betterment of her family and her community. When I last called her, she was struggling for breath; I suggested she call me back when she felt better. Often she’d forget to call me back, but we’d catch up later or the next day. This time she never felt better and she never called me back.
Lynne’s life and memory will be celebrated on Tuesday afternoon, June 22nd, from 4-10 p.m. at the picnic sites 3A and 3B in Washington Park, near the lawn bowling. Please RSVP Trice Hufnagel, 303-941-5252, so we can make plans. Donations in Lynne’s memory can be made to her favorite charities: The Colorado Symphony (coloradosymphony.org), The Lone Tree Arts Center (lonetreeartscenter.org), and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (pprm.org).