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Former Times-Call Publisher Ed Lehman Dies at Age 93

November 10, 2018

Times-Call Publisher Emeritus Ed Lehman talks about enjoying retirement and spending more time in his Longmont home in this Dec. 23, 2011, photo.

Ed Lehman — the journalist, lawyer, former legislator and civic leader who owned the Times-Call for 54 years — died Saturday morning in Longmont, surrounded by family members. He was 93.

Lehman is survived by his wife, Connie; son, Dean Lehman, and his wife, Anne; grandchildren Jennifer Lehman and Gregory Lehman; and daughter, Lauren Lehman, and her husband, John Kivimaki.

Funeral arrangements are pending with Ahlberg Funeral Chapel.

Lehman and his late wife, Ruth, bought the Times-Call in 1957.

He had been a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post, as well as a former practicing attorney and deputy district attorney in Denver. Ruth was a practicing attorney before entering the newspaper business.

Lehman oversaw the expansion of his company, Lehman Communications, at Fourth Avenue and Terry Street, eventually doubling its size in the 1980s to about 45,000 square feet.

Lehman was named the Colorado Press Association’s Outstanding Publisher of the year in 1967. That year, Lehman bought the Loveland Reporter-Herald. In 1985, the company purchased the Canon City Daily Record. And in June 1997, Lehman Communications purchased the Louisville Times, Lafayette News and Erie Review. At its height, the company employed hundreds at its downtown Longmont location alone.

Ruth Lehman died in 2000.

In May 2009, Lehman Communications opened a 60,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art printing facility in Berthoud, where the Times-Call, Reporter-Herald and other regional newspapers continue to be printed.

In January of 2011, Lehman announced that he was selling Lehman Communications to Prairie Mountain Publishing, publisher of the Daily Camera. Lehman was named editor emeritus, and his son, Dean Lehman, was named publisher as part of the agreement.

In retirement, Ed Lehman continued writing columns for the newspaper and began working on an autobiography, “Rolling with the Press: A Publisher’s Journey,” which published in 2016. In the book, which he wrote with longtime friend and colleague Suzanne Barrett, Lehman shared his observations over three-quarters of the 20th century.

He was exposed to the news business at an early age, he said in the book. In 1933, Charles Boettcher, grandson of one of the state’s most famous businessmen, was kidnapped just two blocks from where Lehman was living with his aunt on Pennsylvania Street in Denver.

“While Boettcher was missing, Aunt Bertha and I had daily telephone calls from the Associated Press and United Press International, as well as local news reporters from the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News,” Lehman wrote. “Aunt Bertha and I did a good job of answering questions for the press and for the police as to what was going on.”

A year later, stories about how his mother saved his grandfather, a Denver jeweler, from a California horse-racing swindle played beneath big headlines in the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News. Then, at the dawn of World War II, Lehman took a paper delivery job with the Post.

While studying political science at Denver University, Lehman moonlighted as a reporter for the News.

“Studying journalism in college never occurred to me. I was working forty hours a week at it. It just seemed to me that I was getting my education in the college of actual practice,” he wrote.

He continued to work for the paper after graduation, covering federal bureaus, fires, crime and courts. He won a $2,500 civil judgment from a man who punched him in the jaw because he didn’t like his coverage. In 1948, he enrolled at DU’s Westminster College of Law and took a job as night city editor at the Post.

“I saw the law and journalism as closely tied,” he wrote. “There is a great similarity between the two. Both involve writing, interviewing, and a tremendous amount of preparation.”

But Lehman turned away from journalism when he took a job as deputy district attorney in Denver. The “Doodlebug” case, a swindle that took advantage of people’s gullibility and curiosity over the alleged landing of a UFO in New Mexico in 1948 (aka “the other Roswell”), was among the most curious he handled.

He and his wife, Ruth, opened a law practice together and he was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives for one term in 1954. They moved to Longmont three years later.

“I came to Longmont in 1957 with a dedicated thought,” Lehman wrote. “I believed that there could not be a great community without a great newspaper. ... Often the work was sweet; just as often it was hard.”

“He worked to age 85 because he loved his work and his community,” Connie Lehman’s daughter, Dana Coffield, said in a text. “He modeled for all of us that the newspaper is a critical part of our community.”

John Vahlenkamp: 303-684-5239, jvahlenkamp@times-call.com

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