Memorial for Sen. Steadman’s partner, Dave Misner, Monday at Denver Botanic Gardens
Misner - partner, father, son - passed away September 16 at age 48
September 18, 2012 | 1:25 pm
(Updated: February 22, 2013 | 7:40 pm)
Months ago, Sen. Pat Steadman sat in front of a Senate committee testifying for a bill that would give Colorado same-sex couples the right to form a civil union. For Steadman the cause was not only about his sense of fairness and justice, but personal – by extending many of the rights and responsibilities of marriage to Colorado’s LGBT community, he’d also gain the right to form that union with his partner of more than a decade, Dave Misner, who looked on.
Misner was often in attendance while Steadman fought for the bill, and elsewhere Misner appeared regularly at Steadman’s side – a familiar face for many at the Capitol and in the community – warm, caring, funny and down-to-earth. Hard to spot without a smile, Misner’s demeanor was contagious. Whenever Dave showed up unannounced, Pat was smiling too. Everybody was.
There was something truly special about their relationship. Steadman, respected even among lawmakers as someone who knows the Capitol like the back of his hand – bubbling over with facts and insights and a keen, principled interest in even obscure details of law and policy – is engaged and instrumental in Colorado’s political world. In contrast, Misner offered most immediately a sense of joyous appreciation for each moment, an aura of enlightened levity, nonjudgment, realness and humility. Steadman and Misner’s apparent differences highlighted what they clearly shared: compassion – hospitality, a common valuing of family and appreciation and concern for those around them. It was the kind of relationship that brought out, not ego or a mirror image of each partner, but love – one that leapt out and benefitted others, one we should all aspire to have, yet often fail to seek.
Steadman joined Colorado’s other out state legislators as Grand Marshal of the 2012 Pridefest parade, but when he finished his route, he scurried back toward the end of the parade to walk with his supporters – and with Dave, who was, like so often, beaming.
It was not long after Pride that Steadman announced that Misner had just been diagnosed with an advanced stage of pancreatic cancer. The disease is nearly always rapid and fatal when caught so late, but that was just too hard for observers to accept in the case of someone like Dave Misner – a man who was much too young, too healthy and energetic, too caring and too alive for such statistics to apply. Surely the doctors could whip up some magic, that 2012 would be the year the medical journals report an experimental treatment for pancreatic cancer has finally worked. Surely the community’s love and gratitude for Dave would have some mystical healing effect. Surely the fates were on Dave’s side – the universe couldn’t take a man whose partner was at the center of Colorado’s fight for relationship recognition, came so close to achieving it and lost it so narrowly during such a troubling political fight – before they could have a another chance to pass the bill and be united with a civil union.
Tragically, last Sunday, September 16, Dave Misner, a loving partner and father of two adult children, passed away at the family’s home in Capitol Hill at the age of 48.
At Out Front we have been struggling with how we would address this: a story that feels too personal and close-to-home to be reported as “news,” too tragic to be conveyed with a straight face, too intimate for us to insert ourselves into and too well-known – Pat and Dave are so respected and familiar with so many in our community – for us to think we can offer much that’s new. We offer our deepest sympathy and condolences to Pat Steadman, to Dave’s children Courtney and Nick, to Dave’s parents and to our whole community for this loss.
A memorial service for Dave Misner will be held next Monday at 10:30 a.m. at the Denver Botanic Gardens in Mitchell Hall, followed by a public reception in the garden. Steadman detailed their relationship in a recent blog post and in a letter to friends and constituents, Steadman said, On Sunday, September 16, 2012, my beloved partner Dave Misner ended his battle with a devastating cancer. He died quietly in the early hours of morning at our home in Capitol Hill where we have lived the past 8 years. We first met in the summer of 2000, and we had been deeply in love ever since.
Dave was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late June of this year. In less than 12 weeks, he is gone. His fight with cancer was aided by caring doctors and lots of great nurses, but his disease was aggressive and swift. He leaves behind two adult children. His step-daughter Courtney is 25 and lives in Denver, and his son Nick lives in Aurora and will soon turn 22.
Dave’s friends have done much to help out during his illness and while relatives were visiting from out of town. Thank you to everyone who made us peach cobbler and brought meals to the house to help us feed all the visitors. This has been a traumatic experience for the entire family, but with lots of family and friends for support, we’ll make it on through.
Steadman’s friend and fellow legislator Rep. Mark Ferrandino, who shared with Steadman the struggle to pass a civil unions bill in Colorado, also said:
Dave and Pat’s fight was more public than what many committed couples experience. And while their relationship and love was cherished by so many people, Dave’s struggle is also a stark reminder that our state does not provide all committed couples with adequate and equal protections. That fact is especially apparent when loving families like Dave and Pat’s are faced with immense challenges.
Dave retained his sense of humor, dignity and remarkable grace to the end. His memory will continue to provide an inspiration to Pat, his children and people like me as we continue to fight for all Coloradans to be viewed as equal in the eyes of the law.
Friends and supporters have set up a page on fundly raising donations to offset the cost of Misner’s treatment and memorial services.