Former Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb and wife Wilma J. Webb, along with their family, son Anthony Webb, daughter-in-law Rosemary Webb, daughter Stephanie Omalley and grandson Allen Webb visited Northeastern Junior College for Hoops Homecoming last weekend to present $20,000 to the NJC Foundation in support of the Northeastern Plainsmen and Plainswomen Basketball Teams.
The funds will be used to establish The Honorable Wellington E. Webb and The Honorable Wilma J. Webb Human Investment Scholarship to provide support to students who are enrolled full-time at Northeastern and are active in NJC athletics, specifically basketball.
Last weekend’s check presentation occurred during the homecoming basketball games. Prior to the games Mayor Webb and family enjoyed looking at his basketball pictures and spent some time in the Heritage Center.
Mayor Wellington Webb and First-Lady and former State Representative Wilma J. Webb are considered by many as one of the most dynamic, giving, and community-centric political couples in the city of Denver, the state of Colorado, and the nation.
Born in Chicago, he lived there until 1954, when an asthmatic condition forced him to move to a dryer climate in Denver. Mayor Webb is a 1962 graduate of NJC. While at Northeastern, he was a member of the men’s basketball team where he established records playing as a power forward.
Following his time at NJC, Webb received his Bachelor of Arts from Colorado State College (now known as University of Northern Colorado) and his Master of Arts from the University of Northern Colorado. He received four Honorary Doctorate Degrees from the University of Colorado at Denver, Metropolitan State College, University of Northern Colorado, and the American Baptist Seminary in Berkley, Calif.
Prior to being elected mayor, he served in the Colorado House of Representatives; was appointed Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in President Jimmy Carter’s Administration; was appointed Executive Director of Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies by Governor Richard Lamm; and was elected Denver’s City Auditor. His first career position was as a teacher and then as a faculty member for the University of Colorado and Colorado State University.
Webb was elected as Denver’s 42nd Mayor in 1991. He is the city’s first Black mayor. During his service, he led Denver from the economic challenges of the 1990s by his executing an investment of $7 billion in infrastructure which he implemented during his service until 2003.
As mayor, he oversaw the completion of the $4 billion Denver International Airport and negotiated four new airline routes to serve Denver including the airlines of British Airways, Lufthansa German Airlines, Korean Air, and Mexicana Airlines; coordinated the redevelopment of the former Stapleton International Airport’ securing funding for a $300 million addition to the Colorado Convention Center; and led and led negotiations to construct the privately-publicly funded Hyatt Convention Center Hotel.
As a huge proponent of open space, Mayor Webb led the redevelopment of the Central Platte Valley that includes professional sports venues, Six Flags Elitch Gardens, and community gardens and acres of city parks along the South Platte River. He also convinced the city to create Denver Health Medical Authority in 1997, a move that postured Denver Health to eliminate a cash deficit of $39 million.
Mayor Webb currently serves as the founder and CEO of Webb Group International, a consulting firm that works with businesses and cities on economic development projects, public relations and other consulting areas. He serves on several local and national boards, is a member of the Denver Rotary, a 33rd Degree Mason and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities.
Wilma J. Gerdine Webb was born in Denver, Colorado. Her education includes the University of Colorado Denver, Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, an Honorary Doctoral Degree of Humane Letters from the University of Northern Colorado, and an Honorary Doctoral Degree from the Art Institute of Colorado.
Webb formally entered the political arena in 1980 when she was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives. She served 13 years in that position. She was the first Black woman member of the General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee, which is the Legislature’s most powerful committee, and as a member, co-participated with other JBC members in writing the state’s $multi- billion budget, years 1983 to 1987.
As a Colorado lawmaker, and as a member of the minority party, Rep.Webb successfully initiated and delivered laws and programs which improve the lives of all people. These Acts include legislation which provides for Comprehensive Anti-Drug Abuse Treatment; Provisions for Elderly Frail People to Receive Care at Home as Opposed to Nursing Home Placement; a law to enable Subpoena Power to the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and several other positive impacting laws. She was the first Member of the House in recent memory to initiate state bills to provide for Compulsory Full-Day Kindergarten.
In some of her most challenging but victorious and rewarding battles, Rep. Webb fought for four years from 1981 to 1984 before the State of Colorado General Assembly adopted the Martin Luther King, Jr. official holiday.
Wilma Webb served as Denver’s First Lady for twelve years during her husband’s service as the first Black mayor of the City and County of Denver in 1991. In that capacity, she chaired special governmental committees, managed personnel, and represented the City and County of Denver at key public/private meetings and events in the City, the State, the Nation, and internationally.
As First Lady, Wilma worked tirelessly on anti-substance abuse programs and youth and family issues. Her efforts to promote the Arts resulted in the founding of the Denver Art, Culture, and Film Foundation in 1994. She, as a patron of the Arts, led the effort in developing Denver’s Vision for the Arts and created and developed Denver’s Process for the Procurement and Accession of Public Art.
In 1997, President William J. Clinton appointed Webb to serve as the Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Region VIII where she had responsibility for the administration and enforcement of 180 federal statutes governing workplace activities including pension rights, health benefits, and job training in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Webb became the first woman to serve in the region in this capacity. In this position, she was responsible for oversight of this region’s portion of a $37.9 billion Department of Labor budget and its eighteen department agencies.
With strong roots mostly embedded in Colorado, both Wellington and Wilma have lived lives of purpose and passion as servant leaders. As a couple, they prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of local and global communities. They rank uplifting the variety of individuals who are woven into the fabric of communities as number one, with a keen emphasis on helping those whose life experiences have been met with challenges and impediments.
These priorities are a common place throughout the multitudes of actions that both Wellington and Wilma have taken for more than half of a century to better laws, policies, and environments that greatly impact lives. Collectively, they have tirelessly aimed to eliminate injustices and frailties of society while acting to gird up the strength and well-being of the human spirit.
It is with this backdrop that Wellington and Wilma provide resources for the Honorable Wellington E. Webb and Honorable Wilma J. Webb Human Investment Scholarship at NJC, a scholarship to be awarded on an annual basis to selected female and male student-athletes who have need and who, through demonstrated action and declaration, prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of local and global communities and unconditionally seek to uplift others.
While presenting their own donation, the Webbs also encourage others to follow in their footsteps and consider donating to the NJC Foundation to support Northeastern students. For more information on how to donate to NJC, go to www.njc.edu/northeastern-junior-college-foundation.