Lynde McCormick: Journalist, entrepreneur, dies in Denver

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Highlights:

  • Lynde McCormick was a columnist and editor at the Rocky Mountain News.
  • Lynde also was a TV anchor, restaurant owner and ran a Chinese antique business.
  • Lynde was my friend.

 

Lynde D. McCormick III

Lynde D. McCormick III

Lynde McCormick from time to time would join me on luncheon jogs when I was a reporter at the Rocky Mountain News and he was the Business Editor.

On one run, he told me that he had spent the morning reading stories I had written during the 1980s about Denver’s real estate market.

He was looking for fodder for a column, but he told me that he realized my articles were more than about home sales, foreclosures and office leases.

Beyond the numbers, the stories documented Denver’s journey through time and space, as the economy boomed, busted and clawed its way back to recovery, he told me.

That was Lynde.

Lynde became sick last May and died in Denver on Dec. 27 at the age of 64. He was visiting his son, Christian, who lives in Lowry, when he passed away.

Lynde had a way of looking at things in a fresh, big picture way that was often overlooked by the more myopic among us.

His perspective led to a writing flair that was fun to read. His fans included those who first thought was the acronym SEC stood for a college sports conference and those who immediately thought SEC stood for a government agency that would investigate penny stock scams that once flourished in Denver.

Here is an excerpt from a column he wrote for the Rocky on Aug. 21, 1990, on why the smart money was leaving California to live in Denver.

“Los Angeles has become a cesspool of filthy air, all-day traffic jams and unrestricted construction. San Diego is awful. Its gentle hills are gridlocked with housing developments, its open spaces stuffed with office buildings, its beach towns conquered by T-shirt shops. The good life that drew so many people to California suffers from too many of them. So the smart ones are selling their houses for ridiculous prices and moving to places such as Denver, where they can live palatially for a pittance of California’s prices.”

Admiral Lynde McCormick and Queen Elizabeth III.

Admiral Lynde D. McCormick and Queen Elizabeth II on the HMY Britannia in 1953.

 

The local economy, and a certain restaurateur turned Denver Mayor and Colorado Governor, owe Lynde a debt of gratitude.

Lynde had known for months that John Hickenlooper, an out-of-work geologist, was re-inventing himself with plans to open the state’s first brewpub.

One morning,  Lynde received a call from the owner of a competing brewpub, which could open before Hick’s planned  Wynkoop Brewing Co.

Lynde called Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper feared that the much better funded competitor would make it all but impossible to get his dream in what is now LoDo, off the ground.

After all, the idea seemed so risky that Hickenlooper’s mother had passed on investing in it.

Lynde dispatched a Rocky reporter to write a story about the two competing brewpub, but featured Hickenlooper’s Wynkoop brewpub. When Hick’s investors saw it on the front page of the Business section  the next morning, it gave them confidence that it was the real deal and no one pulled the plug.

(Hickenlooper was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Friday and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.)

Lynde was the first to admit that he had a most unusual first name. He told me hated it as a boy, but was proud of it as a man.

He full title was Lynde D. McCormick III.

The USS Lynde McCormick.

The USS Lynde McCormick.

 

He was named after his grandfather, an admiral during World War II. There was even a ship in the Navy fleet called the Lynde McCormick.

When he told me of his family tree, I went into the Rocky’s library, what we in the newspaper racket call a “morgue” and I found a dusty file stamped “Lynde McCormick.”

I dropped it on on his desk, which included photos of  his grandfather standing next to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and the USS Lynde McCormick.

I told Lynde that he could do what he wants with the file, but if it never found its way back to the Rocky’s shelf, I don’t think it would  be missed. It was apparent that no one had peaked in it  for 40 years.

Lynde grinned back at me.

Lynde left the Rocky in late 1990 to take a job as an anchor for an upstart Christian Science Monitor cable channel based in Boston, where he had his own show, Business by Lynde.

When the channel didn’t last as long as his contract, he took a job as an anchor at CNBC Asia in Hong Kong.

We were supposed to run a marathon together in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, while he lived overseas.

Our run was aborted when Jack Welch, the head of General Electric, which then owned NBC, shut down the struggling network. Lynde moved back to the states. We later did run two Boston Marathons together.

Lynde joined his lovely wife Andrea, better known as Kiki, in a Chinese art and antique import business, to be called the Han Horse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

His love of food and cooking led Lynde on his next adventure — opening a restaurant in New York City.

He launched the well-reviewed Brooklyn Label restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and then Cafe Jax on the Upper East Side.

“With the business our philosophy has been that when someone walks through the door, the goal is not to sell them something, but to make them want them to come back,” Lynde liked to say.

In his farewell column at the Rocky, published on Dec. 16, 1990, his lede was: “So, this is goodbye. I’m outta here.

I had known for months he was leaving, but had kept it on the down low.  I also knew he had mixed emotions about his 1,972-mile trek to the east.

Boston is too hot, too humid, too cold, too old,” he wrote.

He was getting a much bigger paycheck and an entry into a field with better prospects than his newspaper gig. However, with the move came loss.

“I will miss the mountains so much it hurts…I will miss the stories not written, people not met, friends not made…I will miss Denver, a wonderful city, and Coloradans, a wonderful people.”

He noted his career started at the Christian Science Monitor as a copy boy in 1972 and it hit is midway point in 1981, when he joined the Rocky.

It was a heady time to be in the Mile High City, desperate to shake its image as a cowtown and fortunes being made so fast it inspired a silly TV show, Dynasty.

Lynde put it this way: “Denver was perched atop an economic boom, richer and wilder than imaginable. Business was dominated by deal makers, gunslingers who didn’t have to be great shots to hit a target as big as the Rocky Mountains. Just when people started believing the fantasy, it busted deep and hard. Now the gunslingers are gone. Denver’s back.”

He loved sharing his thoughts with readers. He said the most fun he ever had was as a columnist at the Rocky.

I’ve tried to be original (sometimes too original), insightful, educational, conversational, controversial and just enough of a smart aleck to keep from being taken too seriously,” he wrote in his swan song missive.

In addition to running, Lynde was always on the go. He excelled in sailing, competitive swimming, surfing, skiing and scuba diving. He was a strong downhill skier and climbed more than half of the 53 14ers in Colorado. Lynde also was a devoted Christian Scientist. He served as a First Reader in his church and authored several papers on his religion.

In addition to Kiki and Christian, he is survived by his daughter, Jennifer Lee, daughter-in-law Elizabeth Marie, grandson Brandon Lynde, his father, Lynde D. McCormick, Jr. and his step-mother, Margaret McCormick.

Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com. InsideRealEstateNews.com is sponsored by Universal Lending, Land Title Guarantee Co. and 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.

 

 

 

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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for GlobeSt.com, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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