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Douglas Bennet, Colorado senator’s father, dies after ‘life of service’

Author: Joey Bunch - June 11, 2018 - Updated: June 12, 2018

Douglas J. Bennet Jr.Douglas J. Bennet Jr. stands outside Bennet Hall when Wesleyan University named the building in his honor in 2012. (Photo courtesy of Wesleyan University)

Douglas J. Bennet Jr., the father of Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and a Washington leader is his own right, died Sunday. He was 79.

He served in the Clinton administration as assistant secretary of state for International Organization Affairs and in the Carter administration as assistant secretary of state for Legislative Affairs, as well as leading the U.S. Agency for International Development.

He also was president of Wesleyan University in Connecticut for 12 years and for a decade was the president and CEO of National Public Radio.

Sen. Bennet released a statement Monday on behalf of himself, his brother, James, and sister, Holly.

“Our father was fortunate to live a life of service,” Bennet said. “He led public, nonprofit and academic institutions that sought to improve our world through the work of thousands of committed people. Holly, James, and I always knew where we stood with Dad. We knew that he loved us. And we are grateful for the example he set.

“We thank everyone who was a colleague or a friend of our father, and ask only that we use this moment to recommit to each other and to the spirit of public purpose that he had.”

The family said it would release details in the coming days about how they plan to memorialize their father.

A native of Connecticut, Douglas Bennet ran for Congress in 1974. His father, Sen. Bennet’s grandfather, ran for the same seat, Connecticut’s 2nd District, and lost in 1956.

Before joining the Carter administration in 1977, Douglas Bennet Jr. was the first staff director of the Senate Budget Committee, according to Wesleyan University. He also was an aide and adviser to Ambassador Chester Bowles, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, U.S. Sen. Thomas Eagleton of Missouri and U.S. Sen. Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.