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Coors Dynasty : Diversity Tolerated, Up to a Point

Second of two parts.

September 19, 1988|BELLA STUMBO | Times Staff Writer

Looking back, Grover candidly blames his adolescent rebellion on his father's stern, strict, rigidly opinionated ways. "He always saw the world as a straight line; there was no room for departing. His view was, if you don't like it, go somewhere else, and he sometimes took it to excess, so I did. I wanted to embarrass him."

Did Not Dote on Children

But now, like Joe Jr., he defends his father. "We were raised in the old German tradition. He didn't believe in doting on his kids, he wanted us to develop character on our own. Heck, we were the last family in Golden to even get a color TV! But now I see that he did it all in love."

But, for all their differences in opinion, all five Coors brothers are in harmony on a couple of major points.

First, born-again Christians or not, none have any moral qualms about selling beer for a living. Like a well-trained choir, all the Coorses know Uncle Bill's "Beer is Good for You" speech by heart. But they're most comfortable diving straight into the Holy Bible in defense of booze. Even Jesus drank wine, didn't he? And, as Joe Jr. points out, according to the Bible, the first thing Noah reportedly did, once that blasted ark finally hit dry land, was get blind drunk--and he was roundly denounced by all for his lack of self-control.

And there's the key, the Coors credo: moderation in all things. In this self-disciplined crowd, where nobody cusses, overeats or even smokes anymore, alcoholism isn't an illness--it's a sin.

Secondly, Joe Coors' sons are also in harmony on at least one other point: Homosexuals are an abomination in the eyes of God.

(Bill Coors' son, Scott, however, begs exception--"I don't buy any of that stuff. I got a couple of good friends who're gay.")

Explains Family Position

Again, it is the mild-mannered Joe Coors Jr. who explains the family position on homosexuality, in the most gentle manner possible, his tone halfway apologetic, begging understanding.

"I believe in the Bible," he says quietly. "And the Bible specifically outlines certain sins, and it calls them that. Not just homosexual behavior, but anything else that gets in the way with your walk with the Lord. But a person's religion is such a personal thing. So, the fact that I choose to believe the Bible is God's word certainly doesn't mean I think gay people, or anybody else, has to believe it, too. It's their choice. What I don't like, though, is if they wanna persecute me for mine. "

Moreover, he added, gays are not alone in their sinfulness. "Everybody sins. I sin."

Yeah? How?

He paused, startled, floundering momentarily for a legitimate sin. "Well, for one thing . . . . Well, I swear, especially when I play gin rummy," he finally said. "And that's a double sin. I should be out doing more charitable work, helping people in need, instead of wasting time that way . . . ."

Moreover, he added, until only recently he also committed the sin of arrogance, of being personally judgmental. He believed, he says, looking ashamed of himself, that AIDS was God's special retribution to gays.

Brother Sets Him Straight

But his youngest brother, John, 32, finally straightened him out. "John is such a sweet spiritual soul. So he spent hours, helping me see just how narrow and judgmental my thinking was. He reminded me: 'Judge not, lest ye be judged.' And, face it--my views were just plain stupid. I mean, is cancer God's retribution? Is a car accident?"

John Coors, now head of Coors' customer satisfaction division, seems to be the whole family's personal pet, and even more of a small-town Golden boy than the rest: He got his engineering degree at the Colorado School of Mines, married the daughter of a Coors engineer, is now the father of four and says of his family: "We're so normal we're boring." He's also no rebel--"I learned from Grover's mistakes."

Holland (Holly) Hanson Coors made and served iced tea, on a plastic tray, to guests on her back patio.

No servants in sight, the Adolph Coors matriarch was alone in her rambling, but remarkably ordinary, ranch-style home, on a bluff just above the Coors brewery--so near that Holly Coors, just like her neighbors, has long since grown accustomed to the 24-hour drone of the brewery's heavy machinery, the thunder of the company's armada of big-rig trucks and freight trains perpetually moving Coors beer out of Golden and into the nation. A huge red and white Coors sign towers beyond the ponderosa pines rimming her wide lawn.

She is still a pretty woman, and one who obviously takes care of herself. Carefully made-up, her face framed by a halo of tastefully quiet platinum hair, she wore large, youthful blue and pink tinted sunglasses and a sporty but high style blue denim dress with muted rhinestones.

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