DENVER (KDVR) — The death of former State lawmaker Joe Nunez and his wife Lilly came as a shock to fellow legislators who worked beside the couple for decades.
Joe and Lilly were both in their 80s when they recently passed away from complications related to COVID-19.
Former State Sen. Ted Harvey called them Colorado legends.
“They were champions for conservative values,” said Harvey.
Harvey ran for Colorado Senate in Douglas County in 1998 as Joe Nunez ran for the State House of Representatives.
Harvey and Nunuz attended the same GOP political events together during the primary, becoming lifelong friends.
“Joe won the House race and I lost the primary but over the course of the years, they became mentors of mine,” said Harvey.
When Nunez resigned from the House of Representatives in 2001, Harvey stepped in soon after.
“I was blessed to fill that role and Joe and Lilly helped me every step of the way,” said Harvey. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Joe and Lilly.”
Harvey said he will always remember Joe and Lilly as a couple that devoted their entire lives to politics and the people of Colorado.
“They never stopped working in politics,” said Harvey.
Joe stayed working with the Bush administration until 2008, as Lilly served as the national committee woman for Colorado until around 2012. Lily also worked for U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong for many years.
“I’m crushed,” Harvey said as he described the moment he found out about their death. “They were two of my dearest mentors in politics for over 20 years.”
According to Harvey, Joe Nunez was one of the first Hispanic Americans to serve as a Republican in the Colorado House and was always proud of it.
“They fought hard to make sure the party reached out to minorities across the state and country to bring more minorities into the Republican Party and stand on traditional American values,” said Harvey.
Above all, Harvey said he will always remember Joe as a man that stood firmly on his principals and fought for what he believed, even if it wasn’t ‘politically correct.’
Colorado State Senator Chris Holbert tells FOX31 Joe Nunez is and forever will be his best friend.
“Lilly referred to Ted and I as her boys,” said Holbert with a laugh. “Joe very much appreciated truth and wasn’t quick to take an opinion and fire off a comment, which is common today,” said Holbert.
Joe and Lilly Nunez were married 59 years.