Carol Kreck, a former Denver Post reporter who served the newspaper and its readers for more than three decades, especially as a longtime child advocate in a beat she created at the paper, died suddenly Monday in her Denver home. She was 75.

Kreck started at the Post on Oct. 20, 1969, and she left the newspaper on July 4, 2003. Throughout her career, Kreck worked in the paper’s library and as a reporter and features writer. Kreck, in 1987, originated a child advocacy beat at the Post. Her in-depth reporting covered public policies affecting kids, foster care, child care, access to health care for children, maternal substance abuse, migrant children and more.

An example of Kreck’s work includes the top of this October 1989 story: “Desperate to stop shooting heroin, Carol destroyed her syringes, phoned her drug dealer and told him not to call anymore. Then she opened the Yellow Pages and started dialing drug treatment programs. She called five or six before she realized there is no place in Colorado for women who are poor, uninsured and abusing drugs; one hospital told her they would treat her for $3,000.” Carol, the subject in Kreck’s story, went on to do outreach work in AIDS prevention for Empowerment, a Denver-area program for women ex-offenders and prostitutes.

In June 1992, Kreck was one of 17 people honored by then-Gov. Roy Romer and his wife, “Bea,” for her wide-ranging reporting and stories on children’s issues. The awards ceremony was titled “Raising Colorado: Investing in the Future of Our Children and Families.”

In December 1994, Kreck was honored as a “children’s champion” by the Colorado Children’s Campaign.

“Coverage of children is its own reward,” Kreck told the Post at the time, when she was mother to two teenage daughters. “What reporter wouldn’t get a kick out of being able to cover health care, justice, courts, the legislature all at once? Even though I’m having a great time, it’s still nice to be recognized.”

She was born Sept. 20, 1947, in East Lansing, Mich., to Robert and Hope Lowe, two World War II Navy veterans. The family moved to Lakewood in Carol’s youth. Kreck earned a degree in criminal justice from Metropolitan State College.

On June 4, 1977, Carol Lowe married Dick Kreck, a former Post columnist, aboard the Rio Grande Zephyr as the train chugged through Colorado’s Moffat Tunnel. The couple, who had two daughters, later divorced.

After leaving the Post, Kreck became a librarian, and she engaged in civic affairs, including attending a 2008 political town-hall meeting in Denver where Republican Sen. John McCain appeared. Kreck, who carried a sign that read “McCain = Bush,” was cited for trespassing at the event. She filed a 2010 lawsuit in federal court against the city of Denver and the police, claiming her constitutional rights were violated. The lawsuit was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock in January 2011.

Kreck was a petite woman, with a bright smile and a hearty laugh. At the time of her 2008 civic brush-up, a YouTube video of her ouster from the the Denver Performing Arts Complex, where the political town hall was held, had more than 102,000 hits. A national  television political commentator referred to her as a “Democracy Superhero.”

“We were raised to really fight the man. She wanted to be known as the “bandit granny,’ ” said Molly Kreck, her daughter.

Before marijuana was legal in Colorado, Kreck grew plants in her basement, for medicinal purposes, for a friend who was battling cancer, Molly Kreck recalled. After harvesting and cleaning the plants, Kreck wanted to dispose of the stems and leaves, but she didn’t want to put them in the garbage, rationalizing that it could lead to an arrest. Instead, she burned the discards in her home fireplace on a July day.

“There was smoke all over Park Hill,” Molly Kreck said laughing.

In 1973, Kreck ran away with the circus, in town, and became a clown for a features story. In the early 1980s, Kreck wrote a story about the fact that no women were working at Mile High Stadium as beer vendors during games. After the story published, Kreck worked for a day selling beer at the stadium — the first woman to hold the exhausting, suds-slinging job.

Virginia Culver, a former longtime religion writer for the Post and friend and colleague of Kreck’s, attended a court hearing when the Denver trespassing case was still ongoing.

“They had her stand up in the courtroom. She was about 4 feet tall, and her defense attorney, standing next to her, was over 6 feet tall,” Culver said with a chuckle. “She never wavered from being a really, really strong Democrat.”

Culver recalled having breakfast at a restaurant on the 16th Street Mall where the music was being played too loud. The two friends spontaneously, and loudly, broke into song. The restaurant music, in turn, was turned off.

“She was really a very fun person,” Culver said. “We were friends for so many years.”

When Denver Post Editor Lee Ann Colacioppo started at the Post in 1999, she worked directly with reporter Kreck.

“Today, when you look up Carol Kreck, you mostly see stories about her arrest as a protester outside a John McCain town hall. That arrest certainly spoke to the stubborn, determined, passionate woman I worked with in my first years at The Post. But I hope she’ll also be remembered for the tough stories she tackled, especially the ones focused on social and juvenile justice,” Colacioppo said.

“She approached her job every day with a desire to make the world better, and as I picture her now, I see her at the back of the room on the phone, talking to one of her many, many sources she’d accumulated over the years.  Those people trusted her because they knew she wouldn’t cut corners and would not let anything get between her and the story she was chasing. She made me a better editor, and I think she succeeded in her effort to make this a better city.”

Kreck is survived by her daughters, Molly Kreck of Denver and Caitlin Kreck of Colorado Springs; her brother, Roger, and his partner, Sophia; her former husband, Dick; a stepson, Kevin Kreck of Colorado Springs; a stepdaughter, Valerie Amburn of Denver; and five grandchildren. Kreck’s body will be composted.

“She was our matriarch; she was our true north star,” Molly Kreck said.

Family and friends will gather to celebrate her life at noon Dec. 3 at the Owl Saloon, 5026 E. Colfax Ave. Readers and the public are welcome.

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