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Colorado PERA executive director Greg Smith dies in Hawaii

December 13, 2017 Updated: December 14, 2017 at 12:36 pm
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Greg Smith. Photo courtesy Colorado PERA.

Greg Smith, executive director of the Colorado Public Employee Retirement Association, died unexpectedly on a family vacation in Hawaii Tuesday.

Smith, 56, joined PERA in 2002 as its general counsel. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2009 and named PERA's sixth executive director in 2012, succeeding Meredith Williams.

Next month Smith was expected to lead the pension plan at the Colorado General Assembly on legislation intended to shore up its $32 billion unfunded liability.

According to a PERA statement, Smith was "renowned for his extensive knowledge of the public pension industry and his passion for ensuring the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of Colorado's public employees. Throughout his career, Greg served on national industry boards, including the National Institute on Retirement Security, the Council of Institutional Investors, the National Council on Teacher Retirement, and the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys."

"Colorado PERA and its membership have lost a true leader and dedicated servant to the public workforce," said Timothy M. O'Brien, Chairman, PERA Board of Trustees.

"Those who knew Greg knew he loved his family, was a proud fourth-generation Coloradan, and was fully dedicated to PERA and its members."

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a PERA critic, said,"In spite of our sincere disagreements over policy, I always respected his work ethic and tenacity. This is a terrible tragedy, and I send my deepest sympathies to Greg's family during this difficult time."

Smith held a degree in business administration from the University of Colorado and a law degree from the University of Denver. Prior to joining PERA, he was a litigation partner at Hamilton & Faatz, P.C., where he held first chair responsibilities in many court and jury trials in both the state and federal courts.

Smith cut an imposing figure and was a loyal Broncos fan. He was active in the Denver-based Center for Providing Value in Health Care (CIVHC), which promotes transparency in health care costs. His father, William "Bill" Smith, was a longtime chief of Denver Public Works; a statue of the senior Smith graces Denver International Airport.

Greg Smith is survived by his wife, Laura, and two adult sons, William and Austin.

Memorial services are pending and will be posted on PERA's website.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 14 to reflect that Smith died Tuesday, not Wednesday.

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