Citizens of the West: Tom and Rebecca Kourlis

Tom and Becky Kourlis named 2010 Citizens of the West

The National Western Stock Show has named Tom & Becky Kourlis its 2010 Citizens of the West. The couple accepted the prestigious award at a dinner on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center. The Citizen of the West, selected by a committee of community leaders, is an annual award given to individuals who embody the spirit and determination of the western pioneer, and who are committed to perpetuating the West’s agricultural heritage and ideals.

Tom and Becky are the first legacy (Becky’s mother and father, John and Ann Love, were honored in 1989) and among the youngest Citizen of the West honorees.

Former Governor Roy Romer says, Tom and Becky Kourlis are high performers, great human beings, fair, compassionate, and just. Romer went on to say, Becky and Tom are rooted in Western values, love of the land, comfortable wherever they are, open to all ideas, and just plain wise. I see them as examples of outstanding citizens who deserve to be honored as Citizen of the West.

Tom and Becky are both Colorado natives but grew up in two different worlds. Tom is the eldest son among five children born to his Greek parents, Harry and Effie. Tom was raised on his family’s ranch in Craig and attended Moffat County public schools. Meanwhile, Becky was born in Colorado Springs, but moved to Denver when her father, John Love, was elected Governor. Becky grew up in the public eye playing hide-and-seek in the Governor’s mansion and attending Graland and later Kent Denver.

Tom’s dad told him he could go to any college provided it was within a five hour drive from the ranch so he could return when needed. Tom chose the University of Denver, where he thrived, graduating with a degree in Finance. Becky chose Stanford where she also attended Law School. Upon graduation, she returned to practice law in Denver.

While their life experiences have been very different, Tom and Becky’s commitment to family, community service and their dedication to the West’s past, present and future are perfectly aligned. Steadfast in these values, Tom and Becky have taken on numerous leadership responsibilities at the local, state and national level.

Tom’s reputation for bringing people together and forging solutions gained recognition from Governor Roy Romer who appointed him as Commissioner of Agriculture for the State of Colorado in 1994. In addition to managing the family ranch, Tom currently serves on numerous committees and boards and was formerly the Chairman of the American Lamb Board which he helped create in 2002.

Among her many accomplishments and responsibilities, Becky was appointed to trial court in Moffat, Grand and Routt Counties in 1987 and then to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1995. In 2006, she left the Court to form a “think/do” tank at the University of Denver dedicated to making the civil justice system more speedy, fair and inexpensive and to restoring integrity and public confidence in the system.

Dan Ritchie, former Chancellor, the University of Denver and now President of The Denver Center for the Performing Arts says, Becky and Tom are perfect Citizens of the West. They live the ideal Code of the West every day. Ritchie will serve as the Emcee of the 2010 Citizen of the West dinner.

Tom and Becky have two grown daughters, Stacy and Kate, and a teenage son, Tom.