George L. Brown, 79, a former lieutenant governor of Colorado who was the first African American to hold statewide office, died Friday of cancer at his home in Boca Raton, Fla., his family said.
Brown, a Democrat, directed the Denver Housing Authority before being appointed to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1955. He was later elected to the state Senate, where he served five terms, before Dick Lamm asked him to be his running mate in the 1974 gubernatorial election.
By a quirk of a one-hour time difference, Brown preceded Californian Mervyn Dymally as the nation's first black lieutenant governor, the Denver Post reported.
After leaving office in 1979, Brown joined Grumman Corp. as vice president for marketing and later became the company's chief lobbyist in Washington. He retired to Florida in 1996.
Brown, a native of Lawrence, Kan., served in pilot training with the Tuskegee Airmen toward the end of World War II. He earned a journalism degree from the University of Kansas in 1950 and worked for the Denver Post as a reporter and editor before entering politics.