More Messages: Ashes to Ashes

Much of the August 5 edition of the Rocky Mountain News concerned the paper's move from its longtime headquarters, at 400 West Colfax Avenue, to a made-to-order building at 101 West Colfax, a few blocks away; the Rocky will share the address with the Denver Post and the Denver Newspaper Agency, which handles business concerns for both entities under a joint operating agreement. In an overview piece, John Rebchook blended information about the costs involved (approximately $100 million, not counting a new $135 million printing press) with anecdotes from the likes of sports staffer Sam Adams. Also quoted was editor/publisher/president John Temple, who devoted his column to memories of the old joint and enthusiastic descriptions of the new one. And features editor Mike Pearson checked in with his own offering, which focused on the crap he'd accumulated over the years. "The city is planning to demolish the current building in December to make way for the new justice center," Pearson wrote. "And if they find the errant cookbook or RuPaul CD in the rubble? Consider it my gift of cultural enlightenment to the incarcerated masses."

With luck, though, the remains from the Rocky won't include any of the human sort: Two former employees of the paper have been interred in the lobby of the 400 West Colfax building for decades, making it a kind of mausoleum.

Insert your own joke if you must -- but the facts are clear. As noted in a 2002 Off-Limits item, Lee Casey, a columnist said to have inspired the rabbit-loving lead character in the play Harvey, and H.W. "Bill" Hailey, an executive who oversaw the paper's switch from broadsheet to tabloid, have haunted the Rocky lobby for decades. (Casey died in 1951; Hailey followed in 1965.) When asked in 2002 what would happen to what's left of Casey and Hailey were the Rocky to pull up stakes, DNA spokesman Jim Nolan said, "We would certainly do everything to honor the wishes of the families and the memory of the two individuals." But if any decision has been announced, neither Google nor the Nexis search engine can find it.

Temple did clear up one matter, however. In late 2001, the city of Denver renamed the section of Elati Street between 14th and Colfax "Gene Amole Way" as a tribute to the late columnist, who passed away the next year. (The accompanying photo is from the dedication ceremony.) Few observers expected that the block would retain the moniker after the Rocky vacated, and in his August 5 column, Temple confirmed this supposition. "Those signs will soon come down to make way for a justice center," he noted. "But new ones are already up on the street that binds our new newsroom, a reminder that Gene Amole's Way -- writing to express, not to impress -- is the Rocky way."

So that's one mystery about a no-longer-living Rocky vet down, and two to go. -- Michael Roberts


Two more mysteries solved.

Denver Newspaper Agency spokesman Jim Nolan says that the remains of Casey and Hailey were disinterred from the Rocky Mountain News lobby several years ago. He knows, because he supervised the process. But in other respects, his memory proves to be a bit fuzzy. For one thing, he was sure that at least one of the Denver dailies wrote about the removal of the urns in question, and that's not quite right. Although the Rocky published an article in November 2002 about what was likely to happen to Casey and Hailey, and Denver Post columnist Dick Kreck penned a blurb on the same topic around that time, neither paper followed up.

In addition, Nolan recalled that the ashes were sent to Crown Hill Cemetery & Mortuary in west Denver, but thought relatives had picked up one batch. Incorrect, says Susan Watson, a funeral director at Crown Hill. Both Casey and Hailey are resting in peace at the facility, where they've been since January 14, 2003.

The bottom line? Casey and Hailey won't be sharing space at the new building with their Rocky successors. Guess that makes them yesterday's News. -- MR