Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Chris Power Bain spoke for Denver

Memorial Day is still three days away, but all week I have been carried away by memories. The extended Westword family lost one of its members this week when Chris Power Bain, who'd served as advertising manager in the early '80s, passed away.

There's much more to her story than Westword, of course -- and it's a quintessential Colorado story.

Chris, who was born in upstate New York and attended Bowling Green University, transferred to the University of Colorado, graduating from there with a degree in journalism in 1976 -- and by then, she was hooked on this state. Like so many people who came here in the '70s, she decided to make her life in this beautiful place -- and work to make it just a little bit better.

She worked at the original Denver Magazine before that publication folded, then joined Westword before moving on to the Rocky Mountain News, where she took on an amazing array of marketing/promotional tasks: coordinating contests, controlling the comics (and all the complaints about them when Zippie got too lively), handling all the specialty books (including commemorative tomes each time the Broncos went to the Super Bowl), managing the Golden Wedding Anniversary parties, running the local incarnation of the Scripps Howard spelling bee (once while her one-day-old son slumbered in a hotel room upstairs, under the watchful eye of his grandmother). After ten years at the News, she moved on to Intelligent Electronics, then the PR firm Johnston Wells, then a job as director of communications for the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce.

I couldn't imagine anyone better suited to talk about this city to the rest of the world. Chris not only spoke for Denver; in many ways, she was Denver -- energetic, enthusiastic and full of ideas for fixing any problem in this city, filling any gap, with a love of the outdoors only surpassed by her love for her husband, Jim Bain, and their son, Jack. Jim ran the Ski Train until that institution died the same year the News did, and every weekend you could find the family flying down the slopes at Winter Park. (I was lucky enough to join them on many occasions; Chris and I took the liberty of renaming "Butch's Breezeway" "Bitches Breezeway.")

Looking for a new challenge, Chris left the chamber in 2006 and took a job at the Colorado Health Foundation -- not realizing that her own health would soon present the greatest challenge. She passed away Monday after a brave, two-year battle with lung cancer.

There will be a celebration of her life at 3 p.m. today at the upper level plaza at Red Rocks. And given the life she lived, it should be quite a celebration.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Denver law firm doesn't want staffers to ride in elevators with IRS agents -- but which one?"

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun