DENVER — John A. Love, who went from a political unknown to become Colorado's 36th governor and later the nation's energy czar, has died. He was 85.
Love died Monday in Aurora after a long illness, his family said. A Republican, Love became governor by beating Democratic incumbent Steve McNichols in 1962.
Regarded as a political moderate during his first term, Love was reelected in 1966 and 1970. Until Love, no Colorado governor had served more than six years.
In 1973, he quit to become then-President Nixon's first energy czar. Less than a year into the job, he resigned, citing frustration with the Nixon administration over the growing Watergate scandal.
Born on a farm near Gibson City, Ill., Love moved to Colorado Springs with his family when he was 3. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Denver in 1938 and his law degree from the same school three years later.
He was a lawyer for the Colorado Public Utilities Commission before entering the Naval Aviation Cadet Program at the start of World War II. The day he was awarded his pilot's wings, he and the former Ann Daniels of Colorado Springs were married.
Love served in the Pacific, flying in the Black Cat Squadron, so named because its planes were black Catalinas assigned to night missions. He was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Returning to practice law in Colorado Springs, he was drawn to politics. He was president of the El Paso County Young Republicans, the county executive committee and the state central committee.
In Love's early gubernatorial career, many legislative veterans of his party considered him a political novice and tried to bypass him. Once, he sided with Democrats in a successful drive for a larger state budget.
His wife died in 1999. He is survived by three children, including Rebecca Love Kourlis, who sits on the Colorado Supreme Court.