Denver Diaries: The Gustavus connection

For two weeks every four years, I talk to strangers on the street and on trains. This is one of those weeks.

And, you know, it’s funny how many people you meet with roots in Minnesota. On the way back to the hotel this evening on the light-rail system, I introduced myself to a man who looked like an interesting character.

He was.

He was a former Gustavus Adolphus professor from the ’70s, now living in Parker, Colorado.

“How do you like it here?” I asked.

“I’m a walking Chamber of Commerce,” Connor Shepherd said. “I’ve lived in 11 states and I’ve been here for more than 20 years.”

He also gave up the education gig, to run for — and become — the mayor of Grand Junction, Colorado for one term, “until they found out I was a liberal.” Now he operates a consulting firm, Circuit Rider of Colorado, which provides services to local government.

But even after all these years, he’s puzzled when I ask him about Colorado politics. “Our legislature leans Democrat, the mayor of Denver is a Democrat, our governor is a Democrat, a senator is a Democrat, and yet the state went for George Bush.

“And this year?” I asked.

“It’s a toss-up, he said,” stroking a professorial beard and shaking his government-wonk head.

In exploring his background, I learned he taught sociology at Gustavus until he decided to pursue a master’s degree in leisure studies.

“What’s involved in pursuing a master’s degree in leisure studies?” I asked.

“You have to be very mellow,” he said.

  • Lily

    What an interesting story. I come from a family of Gustavains, starting with my maternal grandfather, my mother, and my sister. I broke out of the mold and went to another Lutheran college. I loved the part about leisure studeis. Do they need to wear leisure suits to pursue this?

  • Minn Whaler

    Finally a Master’s Program I could really use. Love these stories.