Cover photo for Edward James Dyer, Jr.'s Obituary
Edward James Dyer, Jr. Profile Photo

Edward James Dyer, Jr.

December 9, 1937 — April 29, 2023


Edward James Dyer, Jr.


Edward James Dyer, Jr. was born on Thursday, December 9, 1937 in St. Joseph, Missouri, to Edward James Dyer, Sr. and Eleanor Grace Brown Dyer. He passed away peacefully on April 29, 2023 at his home in Durango, CO with his wife of 57 years and youngest son Matthew in his presence. He was 85. Jim, as he was known to all, lived a life many would envy. Born in Missouri, he grew up in Kansas where he was a high-school football star at Hayden High School (Topeka) in 1955 and President of the Student Council. Following in his fathers' footsteps, he attended and graduated from St. Benedict's College in Atchison, Kansas. He received a B.A. with a major in English literature and a minor in fine arts. The groundwork for a future soldier, politician and self-described "poet/warrior" had been laid. Jim loved painting, doing the NY Times Crossword, and reading everything from the Durango Herald to history books.

Upon graduating college, Dyer joined the United States Navy in 1959, and began his first tour in Vietnam. He served in Advisory Group #79 attached to the 3rd Coastal District/Junk Force, Vung Tao, Vietnam. This unit patrolled the coastline to monitor Viet Cong weapons smuggling. Dyer was awarded the Bronze star for bravery and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross Medal with Palm. Dyer then transferred to the United States Marine Corps. In 1966 he was appointed Commanding Officer of Artillery Battery C, 1st Battalion, 11th Marines in and around Cau Ha, Vietnam. For his third tour in Vietnam, Dyer was assigned to the Air/Naval Gunfire Platoon, Sub Unit 1, 1st ANGLICO (Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company) as a platoon commander, stationed in and around Hoi An, Vietnam, to provide support for the 2nd ROK Marine Brigade. After his 3rd tour in Vietnam, Dyer attended the Naval War College in Newport, RI, and served as a Commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion, 10th Marines, from 1975-1979 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Along the way, Jim met his wife Sharon Ferguson, a flight attendant for TWA at the time and daughter of Lt. Col. Glenn & Mary Ferguson at the Marine Corps Ball in Honolulu, Hawaii.

But the military did not define the man, in 1979, after retiring from twenty years of military service, Jim and his wife, Shari, moved their family to Durango, CO, looking for a safe and wholesome place to raise their boys: Jim, Andy and Matthew. While in Durango, Jim worked as a heavy equipment salesman for Power Motive (1979-1986) and attended Fort Lewis College from 1982-1986, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in career counseling. In 1986, he decided to run for a seat in the Colorado State House of Representatives. As a Democrat from District 59, he served the constituents of La Plata, Archuleta, Montezuma, and San Juan Counties. He was re-elected to this seat in 1988 and 1990. A dozen years later, he was still in Denver, having won the race for State Senate. Later he was appointed by Gov. Bill Owens (R) to the Public Utilities Commission.

In what might seem like a rarity in today's politics, Jim's position politically, though a Democrat, some would say that Jim's votes on issues have been determined more based on his constituents' opinions and his own conscience, rather than on any hard party line. Hence, he generally enjoyed popularity on both sides of the political fence.

Jim Dyer was an avid supporter of Ft. Lewis College. As a graduate from, along with his sons, of Ft. Lewis College, he has donated all his political papers, war journals and personal documents to the Ft. Lewis College Center of Southwest Studies. He also championed many initiatives and legislation for improvements to the college.

Jim is survived by his wife Shari, sons: Jim (Ena), Andy and Matthew; sister: Mary (Ron) Thies; along with many nieces and nephews. Jim's life affected many and his family asks those who knew him or worked alongside of him, join them in celebrating a life well lived. Saturday, June 17, 2023 at 10:00 a.m., a Celebration of Jim's life will be held at the Doubletree Hotel Ballroom in Durango, Colorado. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Jim's name, to the La Plata County Humane Society.

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