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Former Colorado First Lady dies at 93

Beatrice Miller Romer was a champion of early childhood education.

COLORADO, USA — Former Colorado First Lady Beatrice Miller Romer died over the weekend surrounded by her family after a long illness.

The 93-year-old, who died  Sunday, was married to Gov. Roy Romer for 70 years and was by his side during his 12 years in office beginning in 1987. She was an education expert and the driving force behind Colorado’s statewide preschool program.

“Children were the light of her life. Nothing compares to the smile on Bea’s face in the presence of a child. She never stopped thinking about how to make the world better for them,” said Liz Romer, one of Bea’s seven children and chief clinical advisor for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Population Affairs. “Her legacy lives on across the state of Colorado in early childhood education. And it lives on in her seven children, 22 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.”

Bea graduated from Colorado State University in 1951 with a degree in childhood development. She later earned a master’s degree in educational psychology from the University of Colorado, Denver.

In 1964, she co-founded what is now the acclaimed Montview Community Preschool and Kindergarten. She also co-founded Stanley British Primary School and Stanley Teacher Prep Program in Denver.

Credit: Colorado State Archives
Colorado First Lady Bea Romer talks with students in a Denver classroom.

In 1965, Bea established the working group that would bring Head Start to Colorado for the first time. 

Bea was the driving force behind legislation that created the Colorado Preschool Project, today the Colorado Preschool Program. This initiative improved and made more accessible high-quality early childhood care and education and continues to be the framework for early childhood education in Colorado. 

“It came from her heart. She had studied and she had worked with young children and their parents. She was a true expert,” said Donna Garnett, who served as the second director of the First Impressions program. “She didn’t say, this is my chance to be the First Lady. She said, how do we harness the work of all of the advocates who have worked together for years? Bea was an inspiration to all of us. She used her position to really work on behalf of children.”

She won numerous awards for her efforts including the Friend of Education Award and a Citation for Distinguished State and Government Service for Advocacy on Behalf of Colorado’s Children.

Credit: Colorado State Archives
Colorado First Lady Bea Romer at the governor’s mansion in the late 1980s.

The family will announce plans for a memorial service in the future. In lieu of flowers, her family asks that memorial contributions be made to Bea’s favorite early childhood organizations including Montview Community Preschool and Kindergarten and Kindergarten, Stanley British Primary School, CSU Early Childhood Center, The Deloris Project and Clayton Early Learning Center.


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