Bea Romer, former Colorado first lady — and lifelong advocate for early childhood education — has died

Courtesy of the Colorado State Archives.
Colorado First Lady Bea Romer talks with students in a Denver classroom in this undated photo. Romer is largely credited with cutting edge advances in Colorado’s approach to early childhood education in the late 1980s and through the 1990s.

Colorado’s former first lady Beatrice Miller Romer died Sunday, Sept. 10 at the age 93 after a long illness. She was surrounded by her husband of 70 years, former Gov. Roy Romer, and other family members, according to her obituary. 

Beatrice Romer, known to many as Bea, served as first lady of Colorado for twelve years, after her husband took office in 1987. She was also an early childhood educator and advocate, who oversaw efforts to increase support for young children during her husband’s administration. 

“She would describe herself first as a mother and grandmother and finally she would get around to saying she was the First Lady of Colorado,” said her executive assistant, Jennie Kauerz Dawe, in a written statement. “She was just lovely and authentic. She made things happen in a quiet way, but she changed Colorado for the better for kids, and it will be her enduring legacy.”

Romer co-founded what is now the Montview Community Preschool and Kindergarten in 1964. She also co-founded the Stanley British Primary School and Stanley Teacher Prep Program in Denver.

Gov. Jared Polis, who has made expanding early childhood education a major goal of his administration, expressed his condolences to the Romer family Monday.

"Bea’s dedication to advancing early childhood education shaped a generation of Coloradans, improving our state now and in the future and creating a legacy that will always be remembered," Polis said in a statement. "Her passion and kindness inspired all those around her, especially myself, and Colorado is grateful for her life and contributions."

Romer was born in Laramie, WY, in 1929 and moved to Colorado in her late teens. She graduated from Colorado State University in 1951 with a degree in childhood development and later received a master’s degree in educational psychology from the University of Colorado, Denver.

“Children were the light of her life. Nothing compares to the smile on Bea’s face in the presence of a child. She never stopped thinking about how to make the world better for them,” said Liz Romer, one of Romer’s seven children in a statement. Liz Romer is chief clinical advisor for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Population Affairs.

In addition to her husband and seven children, Romer is survived by 22 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. A memorial will be announced at a later date.