Former GJ City Manager Joe Lacy was a magnetic leader
The bronze bust of a smiling Joe Lacy situated at Fifth and Main streets sometimes catches the sun just right, causing its eyes to shine like the real-life Joe.
There’s a bump behind the bust’s right ear, a tribute to the man whom former Daily Sentinel Managing Editor Barclay Jameson called an “inveterate gum-chewer.”
“When he’d get up to speak, he’d tuck the gum behind his right ear,” Jameson said.
Lacy, who was “very bald,” often wore hats whenever he was out in the sun, a frequent happening since Lacy loved to kayak, ski and spend time with his family in the great outdoors, Jameson said.
For this reason, friends of the former Grand Junction city manager sometimes place a cap on the bust’s head, caps which, over time, end up on the heads of street people who pass by.
Placing a cap bearing the letters P and C on the bust last week, Jameson explained the letters did not stand for “politically correct.”
Instead, they stand for Pueblo Centennial High School, where Lacy won a state champion medal in the 400-yard dash.
“Joe was high-energy. He planned well. He was outgoing and had a selection of jokes all the time, some of which you probably wouldn’t repeat at a ladies luncheon. He was identified, really, as a comer,” Jameson said.
Hired as city manager by the Grand Junction City Council in 1960, Lacy’s first act was to clarify lines of authority with the council so that he would be free to act as needed to improve the city, according to “Operation Foresight: Building Community on Main Street,” a book authored by Vera Mulder and Ken Johnson.
Free from the council’s micro-management, Lacy became the driving force behind the development of the Main Street Downtown Shopping Mall and a key leader in the five-phase Operation Foresight.
An entrepreneur at heart, Lacy followed up his seven-year tenure as city manager by working as director of the Best Western Motel Association based in Phoenix and later as the executive director of the Colorado Commission on Efficiency and Economy in State Government.
In retirement, he volunteered as a trail guide helping visitors along the Shopping Park. He was also a member of the Avalon Theatre board and the Downtown Development Authority.
He died May 1, 2002, at age 74, survived by his wife of 50 years, Mayme, and four sons.