Professor Emeritus Gary Holbrook, born in Denver and raised in La Junta, died Sept. 6.

Early life

After graduating from high school, Holbrook joined the Army Reserve. When he returned home, he attended Otero Junior College in La Junta and Adams State College in Alamosa, where he majored in Speech, Theater and Secondary Education with a minor in Political Science. He then taught at La Junta High School for a year before he was offered a graduate fellowship in Public Address. After receiving a Master of Science Degree from Southern Illinois University, he taught Speech Communication at the University of Colorado Boulder for two years. 

Career with MSU Denver 

Holbrook was approached by Professor Lester Thonssen, with then-Metropolitan State College, in 1968 to establish and direct the Forensics program and teach Speech Communications at the new college in downtown Denver. In 1978, under Holbrook’s direction, the college hosted the National Debate Competition, in which 62 top college teams from across the U.S. vied for the National Debate Championship. In 1981, the American Forensic Association recognized MSC’s 1978 tournament as the best in the 1970s. 

Holbrook received the Distinguished Service Award from MSC in 1993 and was the recipient of three sabbaticals in 1979, 1986 and 1993 to teach and lecture on Speech Communication in the classroom through the Teacher Education program at Trinity College, Dublin. This past March, Metropolitan State University of Denver honored Holbrook by naming its debate program The Gary Holbrook Debate Institute. 

Remarks and memorial  

Holbrook was a loving husband to his wife, Judy, stepchildren Sean and Tammy Gray, grandchildren Christopher, Chase and Cydney Gray and Chelsi Evans, cousin Marilee Gruber, sister Kitty Long and several nieces and nephews. 

Holbrook loved to travel, which took him to many countries throughout the years. He was also outgoing and, as the saying goes, “never met a stranger.” He was a gifted storyteller and, in his later years, loved to make up songs for friends, nurses taking care of him in hospitals and staff members at restaurants where he spent time.  

Memorial Details:


Friday, Sept. 22, at 2 p.m. 

12801 W. 44th Avenue
Wheat Ridge 

You are invited to make a gift in his memory to the Gary Holbrook Debating Union & Archive, which will carry his legacy forward at MSU Denver.