Tillie Bishop was many things to many people — a statesman, philanthropist, teacher, leader, mentor and friend.
To his wife, Pat, he was sunshine.
At a memorial service attended by hundreds of people at Colorado Mesa University on Tuesday, Pat Bishop recalled the laughter, joy and good-hearted scoldings that made up 67 years of partnership.
During Tillie's first run for office, he didn't fill up the gas tank on the truck that also carried his campaign billboard, and Pat ended up stranded on Interstate 70 on her way to work, hitchhiking in a dress and high heels.
The couple had Thanksgiving with the same group of friends for 50 years, with "the husbands" in charge of making the elaborate meal.
And though they spent decades as a political partnership to be reckoned with, their marriage was also filled with music.
"Tillie and I sang together almost daily — at home, in the car, elsewhere, wherever we were — 'You Are My Sunshine.' Tillie and I would sing the first verse, then Tillie would sing the second verse, then we would sing the first verse together again," Pat said.
"A week ago from Sunday, Father's Day, my sunshine dimmed," she said.
Countless public officials attended the celebration — representatives and senators, officers and council members from across the political spectrum.
"He would like nothing more than to look down and to see all of us gathered here," said CMU President Tim Foster. "I hope you'll remember Tillie, and those of you are serving in some way, shape or form, that you will think about being as nonpartisan and humble as he was."
Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis remembered Tillie Bishop for his friendly nature but also for his clear priorities.
"They say he got along with everyone, and he did, but when it came to Western Slope interests — whether it was water or this university — he drew a line in the sand," McInnis said.
Colorado Mesa Trustee Betty Bechtel recalled that even when he was too ill to come to board meetings in the final months of his life, Bishop still called in to participate.
"He brought so much knowledge, expertise and wisdom to the board," she said. "Besides giving of his time and assistance in the Legislature, he also gave so much financially. He's a legend at CMU, and he always will be. I hope we did as much for him as he did for us, but I think that's impossible."