Former Mayor First COVID Death in Leadville
Bud Elliott Remembered by Lake County Community
By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today
As the nation held memorial services yesterday to honor the half-million American lives lost to COVID-19, Lake County reported a different milestone: its first coronavirus death. In a press release distributed on Monday, Feb. 22, Lake County Public Health officials made the following statement:
Lake County Public Health Agency (LCPHA) is reporting the first known death of a Lake County resident associated with a positive COVID-19 infection. The death was confirmed on February 22nd for a male in his 70s who tested positive for COVID-19 on January 21, 2021. The individual had underlying health conditions and COVID-19 was believed to be a contributing factor to the death.
“It is a very difficult day for the entire Lake County community as we face this tragic loss of life of someone fighting an active coronavirus infection. We send our deepest condolences to all who are impacted by this loss,” shared LCPHA Director Colleen Nielsen.
While HIPAA restrictions prohibit medical personnel from releasing the identification of the deceased, LT was able to corroborate with three independent sources that former Leadville Mayor Bud Elliott was the first in America’s highest city to fall victim to the global pandemic. As if news of the first COVID-19 death in Lake County weren’t enough to get the social media platforms buzzing, the news of the passing of one of Leadville’s most notable politicians and community members pumped up the volume and it didn’t take long for locals to connect the dots. Then this morning, a more formal announcement came from Bud Elliott’s family.
“This sad news reinforces our commitment to work together even more closely to protect our beloved community from the negative impacts of COVID-19,” Public Health Director Nielsen added.
COVID-19 infections continue to spread in Lake County, primarily through community transmission. There are currently 29 active COVID infections being monitored in Lake County residents. A total of 661 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lake County to date. LCPHA continues to urge all members of the Lake County community to take personal precautions that will reduce COVID infection risk, including social distancing, wearing face coverings, staying home if ill, getting tested if exposure is known or suspected and to get vaccinated when it becomes available to you.
Solvista Health offers mental health support services through its Colorado Shines program. Free support, resources, and counseling are available for anyone requesting them, 24/7. Call 719-275-2351 and ask for Solvista’s Colorado Spirit team.
A Sparkly Tribute: Bud Elliott
Publisher’s Note: The following information is literally, in his own words, with Bud’s story pieced together from his political speeches and community gatherings, recorded over the years. LT did its best to honor that information, however, should anything be askew, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. RIP, Bud.
For anyone who ever met Bud Elliott, his story is as big and strong as he was in stature, in real life. It was 1994 when Bud first moved to Leadville with his only son Evan, leaving behind the mid-west and a job running the psychiatric department of a large hospital in Kansas City for running a business, and eventually a city, in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
Elliott served on Leadville City Council for four years from 2000-04 and then as Mayor of America’s highest city for 8 years (2005-2013). During his tenure, he cited among his biggest achievements the National Summit of Mining Communities, the establishment of Leadville’s Historic Preservation Commission, and the beautiful bus barn off Highway 24 south.
After his time on Leadville City Council, Elliot turned his political ambitions towards becoming Lake County Commissioner in District Three. In 2008, he lost the Democratic primary election, by only four votes. But the loss did not deter his deep-rooted dedication to the community.
“I didn’t whine about it, I didn’t cry about it,” Elliott explained during his 2016 re-campaign speech for the same position (alas, another defeat). “I just kept going to Planning Commission Meetings and volunteering in my community.”
During this period, Elliott’s reach would expand, representing Leadville in regional capacities during his service on the Arkansas River Basin Roundtable and on the high-country board for El Pomar Foundation.
But it was always the events closer-to-home where Elliott’s “sparkle” shone brightest. Ten years on the board of the Lake County Advocates, a dedicated volunteer at the annual Leadville Loppet ski race, and for all those Leadville Trail 100 fans, Elliott was the voice, announcing most of the races until the sale in 2010. Bud was there at the shotgun start, and at the finish line, hanging medals on thousands of racers. He will also be greatly missed at the St. George Community Meals, lending a compassionate ear to many. And certainly among his fellow Leadville Lions who posted on their Facebook Page:
We will miss our ‘sparkly’ Lion Tamer. No one will ever be able to keep us in line and bring a smile to our face like Lion Bud Elliott did for so many years. Thank you for all of your years of dedicated service to our club and the Leadville Community!
He was an animal lover and a good friend to many. But most of all, Elliott was a dad to his only son, Evan, a Lake County High School graduate (2000) who has gone on to do great things, mimicking his father in public service, presently serving at the state department. The Leadville family extends its deepest condolences to Evan and his family. May Bud rest-in-peace knowing that Leadville will be a little less “sparkly” without him.
Colorado journalist Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin a media company located in Leadville, Colorado that publishes LeadvilleToay.com and SaguacheToday.com. She may be reached at email@example.com.
From The Family of Bud Elliott