For 43 years Bob Loevy worked with young minds at Colorado College, where he still holds an office following his 2011 retirement.
But Loevy, a published author and regular Gazette news columnist, has a legacy extending far beyond the classroom.
In the 1970s, he served on the city planning commission during one of the fastest-growing periods in Colorado Springs history, passing a parks bond to create Ute Valley Park. He worked with a symphony director to contact every voter in the county to support financing the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts. Loevy even helped reconfigure boundaries for state Senate and House seats with Colorado’s Reapportionment Commission.
On Sunday, the stalwart Coloradan with a penchant for public service will celebrate his 88th birthday as he continues impacting the city he loves.
“I came ready to have a different experience. I was charmed, as so many are, both by Colorado College and Colorado Springs,” Loevy said. “I never, ever thought of leaving.”
Loevy cut his teeth in the political realm at the height of the civil rights era as a journalist at the Baltimore News-American.
Sit-in coverage was the norm as Black Americans fought for equal rights at local establishments. Protesters would refuse to leave a restaurant until they were served, or they’d clog the line to a movie theater that refused to sell them tickets.
He remembers one story where two bricks were thrown through a kindergarten classroom window after the previously all-white school began accepting Black children.
Those early years of his professional career were spent breaking down Baltimore’s “cotton curtain,” an unofficial tenet that held that mentioning Black people in the news was taboo in a segregated America, unless it was related to crime. There were no social or business stories, no stories of their successes. No matter how big the news, he said, it was all but ignored.
He told their stories.
“It had a tremendous influence on what happened afterward,” Loevy said. “I was exposed to the civil rights movement sort of at the nuts-and-bolts level of what was happening locally.”
What he learned covering state courts and police districts would support his graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University and, later, as a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill in Washington. Working with U.S. Sens. Thomas Kuchel and Hubert Humphrey, he had a front-row seat to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed racial discrimination.
It was during his time in Washington that he met his wife, Constance, with whom he would caravan across the country in 1968 to start his career as a Colorado College professor.
His gig as planning commissioner caught the attention of the Old North End Neighbors homeowner's association, with whom he'd collaborated on several projects. The association approached him to lead their group as president before he'd even officially moved into his North Tejon Street home.
He held the role for four years, leading the effort to acquire the neighborhood's national historic district status. Two tangible products of that work, seen by passersby each day, include the historic streetlights lining Tejon and the entryway signs denoting the Old North End's boundaries.
"When you've had a hand in things you can look at" and "lots of others are looking at it, too, that is one of the rewards of doing this sort of thing," Loevy said.
He continues to serve on the board today, and his friend and colleague Tom Cronin endearingly bestowed upon him the title of “Unofficial Mayor of the Old North End.”
At home, however, he’s always just been Bob. Or "Dad." Or "Pop Pop."
Rachel Loevy, one of seven grandchildren, remembers little rumblings here and there as a child that alluded to her grandfather’s impact.
“I had no idea who my grandfather was,” Rachel Loevy said. “I would have a substitute teacher in school who would say my last name correctly, and then they would look and me and they’d be like, ‘Are you related by chance to Bob Loevy?’”
At the time, she chalked it up to his status as a college professor, and a pretty good one at that. It wasn’t until much later, her late high school or early college years, she said, that he would reveal the extent of his local legacy through an impromptu story.
She’ll point to a landmark she enjoys while out on the town with her grandfather, she said, and he’ll reveal he played a role in its creation.
“He usually doesn’t overly sing his own praise,” Rachel Loevy said. “There’s always a new story where we’re like, ‘Wait, you what?’”
But to her, he’s always just been Pop Pop, a "complete sweetheart" who would join her siblings for "Scooby-Doo" movie nights as a kid and, after some prodding, cave in to their pleas for ice cream.
In much the same spirit, Loevy plans to ring in his 88th year not by patting himself on the back or holding an extravagant event at a banquet hall. Rather: “Dinner, a movie, ice cream and cake with my grandchildren and son,” Loevy said.
“I’m perfectly delighted. That’s exactly what I want and all I want.”