John J. Rataj, a valued member of my Cabinet, passed away unexpectedly last week.
Some of you knew John during the past five or six years as the Acting Director of the Community Development Administration. I had offered John the permanent Director slot when I was re-elected in 2005 but he declined to accept the position, preferring to continue in a supportive role. And he was exceptional support to our City and its neighborhoods.
John joined CDA when the agency was established in 1974, and rose through the ranks to become its permanent Director of Administration. During his three decades of service at CDA, John was an invaluable resource for all of its directors. His knowledge and outstanding interpersonal skills helped keep the agency in good standing with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and most of its operating agencies. I presented him a Mayor’s Service Award for "sustained superior performance" in 2003.
John was well liked by elected officials and his fellow City employees; and by the many agencies funded by CDA. His knowledge, tactfulness, effective administration, can-do attitude, integrity, sense of humor, and expertise will be sorely missed by everyone with whom he came in contact.
John was an avid outdoorsman, and especially liked to climb to the summits of Colorado’s Fourteeners. He had successfully reached the peaks of three dozen of them. He died while hiking in the vicinity of Crestone Needle.
I offer the City’s heartfelt condolences - and my own - to Jennifer Rataj, John’s wife of 36 years; and to his three sons, William, Stephen, Daniel, and their families.