Olthea Ludwig “Lee” Hart, the wife of former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, died Friday at St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood after a brief illness. She was 85.
Hart, a former teacher, campaigned for her husband’s senatorial runs in 1974 and 1980. She also campaigned for his bid for the U.S. presidency in 1984.
“She was amazing with volunteers and staff, she was the person in the room who made everyone feel great,” said Bill Shore, a former Gary Hart political staffer who is a family friend. “She was a super warm person.”
Born in Lawrence, Kansas, on Feb. 20, 1936, she spent her formative years in Kansas City, Missouri. Olthea Ludwig graduated from Bethany Nazarene College in 1958. She married Gary Hart that summer.
While Gary Hart entered graduate school and earned a law degree, Lee Hart taught high school English in Milford, Connecticut, according to her family. The couple spent three years in Washington D.C., she gave birth to their two children, Andrea and John.
The family moved to Colorado in 1967 where Lee became involved in a variety of community endeavors, eventually including her husband’s campaigns.
“She was fiercely protective of Gary, she always made his causes her causes,” Shore said.
A Kittredge resident for 36 years, Lee Hart loved nature and wildlife, especially birds, her family said. In retirement, she traveled widely, with her husband and family, in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. In her 60s, Hart realized a lifelong dream, hiking and climbing steep jungle hills in Uganda to observe a mountain gorilla family.
She is survived by her husband, Gary; daughter, Andrea Leigh Hart, Lakewood; and son, John Warren Hart, Kittredge; a sister, Martha Keys; and two grandchildren.
Memorial contributions may be made to Share Our Strength, or the Evergreen Audubon Society.
A private funeral service and burial will be held in Evergreen.
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