Carbondale rancher, former Congressman Strang dies at 84

Mike Strang

Mike Strang, a Carbondale rancher and former U.S. representative and state legislator who foreshadowed the legalization of marijuana, died Sunday.

Strang, also an indefatigable Denver Broncos fan, was 84.

“He was an exceptionally brilliant legislator, well, individual,” said Tillie Bishop, who entered the Colorado Legislature at the same time Strang did.

Strang, a Republican, carried the measure that in 1975 made possession of less than an ounce of marijuana by an adult a petty offense.

A graduate of Princeton, Strang never graduated from high school because he was home-schooled, Bishop said.

Strang offered to test into Princeton and “blew the tops” off the exams, Bishop said.

Strang was elected to Congress from the Western Slope, where he served one term. After he was defeated by Democrat Ben Nighthorse Campbell, he returned to horse and cattle ranching and consulting on natural-resource issues.

Strang enjoyed his time in Washington, D.C., said one of his daughters, Bridget.

“He loved our political process,” Bridget Strang said. “He loved the movement-making and the energy.”

An ardent fan, he watched on television as the Denver Broncos defeated the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

“He waited for the Broncos to win,” Bridget said, “and then he checked out” with his family at his side.

Strang occasionally was at odds with his fellow Republicans and Democrats, “but I don’t know of anyone who actually disliked Mike,” Bishop said.

His trademark white Stetson made him immediately recognizable in a crowd, Bishop said. Former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., said when he was sworn in, people recognized his district as having been represented by the “guy in the white Stetson.”

In addition to his daughter Bridget, Strang is survived by his wife, Kit; another daughter, Laurie Strang Cunningham; and a son, Scott.


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