Marcy and Bruce Benson. (Courtesy of the National Western Stock Show)

The National Western Stock Show has named Marcy and Bruce Benson its 2020 Citizens of the West, an award that honors “community leaders who exemplify the spirit and determination of a western pioneer,” the stock show’s website says.

The first Citizen of the West award was given in 1978 to Robert “Red” Fenwick, a “cowboy reporter” who roamed The Denver Post’s then 13-state circulation area. The 2019 recipient was Robert G. Tointon, “a well-known and much-respected business leader, rancher and philanthropist” who lives in Greeley, the website says. Recipients are selected by a committee of community leaders.

“These modern day pioneers are honored for their economic and philanthropic endeavors in the West," the website says.

The Bensons, who live in Denver, will receive the award Jan. 13 during a dunner at the National Western Events Center, 1515 E. 47th Ave. in Denver. Proceeds from the event support 100 scholarships the National Western Scholarship Trust awards annually to colleges and universities in Colorado and Wyoming.

“Marcy and Bruce have committed themselves — their energy, their brains, and their assets — to raising the standards of excellence for our state whether in education, health care or culture,” the website says. “They exemplify our Western values of courage, fairness, independence, toughness, integrity and a can-do spirit. Their leadership and contributions have touched and improved every aspect of life in Colorado.

“Whether as President of the University of Colorado for 11 years, leaders of Denver Public Schools, Children’s Hospital, the Republican Party, the Denver Zoo, or community projects, Marcy and Bruce have become one of the most formidable, effective teams in the Rocky Mountain West.”

Bruce Benson graduated from CU in 1964 with a degree in geology, then started Benson Mineral Group, “which grew into a successful oil and gas company before diversifying into banking, real estate, cable television and restaurants,” the website says.

Marcy Benson came to Colorado after serving in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, most notably as director of the White House Fellows. She was board chairwoman for the Children’s Hospital Foundation and co-chaired the capital campaign to build its new facility on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. She also has served on the boards of Denver’s Scientific and Cultural Facilities District and the Denver Public Library.

“Marcy and Bruce co-chaired two successful billion-dollar plus fundraising campaigns for CU,” the website says. “During his presidency, records were broken on CU’s four campuses in enrollment, graduating classes, fundraising, and research funding. He continues to champion freedom of expression and viewpoint diversity through the Bruce Benson Center for Western Civilization.”

To purchase tickets for the 2020 Citizen of the West event, contact Morgan Unks at 303-299-5560 or For more information, visit

Ellie is a general assignment reporter. She's a proud Midwesterner, stationery hoarder and Earl Grey tea enthusiast. After interning at The Gazette in 2015, she joined the newspaper's staff in 2016.

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