Retiring head of Denver water utility dies on Hawaii ranch
Associated Press Writer
DENVER (AP) – The longtime manager of Denver’s water utility died in an accident on his part-time farm in Hawaii just weeks before his retirement, the agency said Monday.
Chips Barry, 66, was killed Sunday. No details were released. Denver Water spokeswoman Lori Peck said Hawaii authorities were investigating.
Barry had been in charge of Denver Water since 1991 and planned to step down at the end of the month.
“It’s a shock to everybody, obviously, who knew him and worked with him and loved him,” said Jim Lochhead, who was appointed last month to succeed Barry.
Lochhead planned to take over on June 1. He said he wasn’t sure if that would change.
Denver Water serves about 1.3 million people in Denver and some suburbs.
Barry was widely credited with revitalizing the utility and changing its approach after federal regulators rejected its plan to build the massive Two Forks dam and reservoir in 1990.
Under his leadership, the utility switched to a more cooperative and less confrontational style, said Patty Limerick, a University of Colorado historian who’s writing a history of Denver Water.
“I really think that this was an inspiring effort to try to think bigger,” Limerick said Monday.
In a written statement, Gov. Bill Ritter said Barry “revolutionized Denver Water, making it a national leader in conservation and a better partner for everyone who cares about this state.”
The utility said grief counselors were available to its 1,100 employees.
Barry was born in Denver and graduated from Yale and Columbia University Law School. He was executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources when he took over Denver Water.
Barry produced macadamia nuts, honey and coffee on his 8-acre Hawaii farm. In an April interview, he said he planned to spend more time there after retiring but would live in Denver.
He is survived by his wife, Gail, a Denver landscape architect, and two sons. Funeral arrangements were pending.
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