Former Colorado Senator Bill Armstrong Dies At Age 79

William L. (Bill) Armstrong, former US Senator and Colorado Christian University president, died Tuesday after a five-year battle with cancer, the Washington Times reports.

Armstrong, who was considered a legend in Colorado politics, died months after he announced his retirement as president of Colorado Christian University.

He was 79.

Senator Cory Gardner remembered Bill Armstrong and his contributions to the country in a statement:

“Our nation lost a great public servant, whose mark on Colorado and this country embodies the virtues of liberty, faith, and family. His booming voice, piercing gaze, and love of fellow patriots will never be forgotten. So many people in Colorado were brought to conservative ideas and optimism through Senator Armstrong. The United States is a better place because of his grace, humility and boundless spirit.”

Bill Armstrong served in the House of Representatives from 1972-1978 and the Colorado House of Representatives in 1963-1964 before he was elected to two consecutive Senate terms. As a US Senator from 1978-1990, Armstrong became a member of three committees — the Senate Finance Committee, the Senate Banking Committee, and the Senate Budget Committee. In 1990, the Colorado Republican refused to run for a third term despite his ongoing popularity. He was succeeded by fellow Republican Senator Hank Brown.

Richard “Dick” Wadhams, a political consultant who worked for Armstrong for the nine years he served as a senator, lauded Armstrong’s achievements, which he said were impressive considering the time period.

“His [William Armstrong’s] election to the senate in 1978 came on the heels of… an entire generation of Republican leadership being wiped out following the Watergate scandal,” Wadhams said. “His victory… was not only a big win in that election year, it was essentially the revival of the Republican party in the aftermath of Watergate,” Wadhams added.

“Anybody who served in public office for 28 years — and throw in the historical significance — those are the things that set him apart from a lot of other folks,” he concluded.

In August 2006, William became the president of Colorado Christian University. He ran a successful expansion campaign during his term as president, strengthening the university’s enrollment, fundraising, and campus facilities.

“He displayed an uncommon vision for our times by adopting the University’s Strategic Objectives at the beginning of his presidency, and went on to lead the University during a period of unprecedented growth,” said Gary Armstrong, president of the CCU Board of Trustees, in a statement.

“Armstrong also spearheaded the current campus redevelopment campaign, now in its fifth year,” he added. “His impact on the University will be felt for generations.”

William was also a Colorado businessman who served as director of six public companies and as chairman of Oppenheimer Funds. His family also owned the Colorado Sprinigs Sun newspaper for the better part of the 70’s and a few radio stations in the 1960’s.

“Following his many years in public service, he devoted his time to educating and supporting the next generation as president of Colorado Christian University,” said Sen. Michael Bennet in a statement. “He had a deep respect for democracy and our country’s future. That respect shall endure the test of time.”

Non-profit law firm The Becket Fund issued a statement in honor of Armstrong, saying that he was a “vigorous defender of religious liberty.”

“As a United States Senator he sponsored crucial legislation protecting the rights of religious organizations,” the organization said. “As the president of Colorado Christian University he was among the first to challenge government efforts to force employers to provide healthcare plans that violated their religious convictions.”

CCU launched a website to remember and honor William Armstrong’s life and legacy.

“Bill Armstrong served as president of CCU from 2006 to 2016. He displayed an uncommon vision for our times by adopting the University’s Strategic Objectives at the beginning of his presidency, and went on to lead the University during a period of unprecedented growth. He called his work at CCU “the most significant, energizing, and rewarding work I have ever undertaken.”

But beyond his achievements, Bill’s true legacy was his focus on Jesus and his enthusiasm for Colorado Christian University and all who are a part of it. The CCU community mourns his passing. We will miss his leadership, his guidance, his vision, and his friendship. But we also celebrate his life, his love of Jesus, and the impact he made on our University.”

[Photo by David Zalubowski/AP Photo]