Jack Hyatt’s relationship with the University of Colorado Boulder spanned more than half a century.
Having grown up on the west side of Denver, he headed up the Denver-Boulder Turnpike — now U.S. 36 — to study mathematics at CU in 1958. Upon graduation in 1962 he moved to tiny Ovid, Colo., where he was a high-school math teacher for three years.
That’s when Jack and two of his childhood friends, Steve Farber and Norm Brownstein, decided to go to law school at CU. “The rest is history,” according to Jack’s nephew, Aaron Hyatt
That history continued with the three friends’ decision to hang out a shingle as Brownstein, Hyatt & Farber in 1968 and continues today, where Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP is widely considered one of the most prestigious law firms in the country.
Believing that CU Boulder had helped lay the foundation of his success, Hyatt, together with his wife Andrea, supported the university in numerous ways for nearly five decades. Following his death on March 11 at the age of 75, that legacy continues with bequests of $100,000 to the law school and $50,000 to the College of Arts and Sciences.
The arts and sciences endowment is designated “for students majoring in mathematics who are of modest means and who plan on becoming a secondary teacher or attorney in [the] state of Colorado,” says Aaron Hyatt, a 2001 CU law graduate who joined his uncle’s firm in 2000.
In a tribute to Jack Hyatt, the Intermountain Jewish News wrote, “He was, in the classic Hebrew phrase, me’urav im ha-beriot, involved with people in a consistently friendly and embracing way. … There is a word for Jack Hyatt, a word that says a lot: mensch.”
Nobody knows that better than Aaron Hyatt. After losing his father to leukemia when he was just 9 months old, “Jack stepped up from that day forward to become the male influence in my life. … One hundred percent, he was a father to me.”
When Aaron, who also grew up in Denver, was a junior at Middlebury College, he traveled with his uncle to Las Vegas for the firm’s annual partners’ retreat.
“It was on that trip that Jack laid out for me the benefits of a law degree, and how a law practice could be a distinguished career that allowed one to make ‘a nice living,’ as Jack would say,” Aaron said in a eulogy for Jack on March 13.
“Jack shared with me how lucky he felt to have a career in law; how it was an honorable profession; how much fun he had doing deals and growing and running a business; and, most importantly, how it gave him the opportunity to establish deep and treasured relationships with his partners, his other colleagues, and his clients.”
Jack’s dedication to his community led him to serve as board chair for Mental Health Colorado, and he was long active in Jewish Colorado. The “third major piece” of his community engagement was CU Boulder, “which was always important to him,” Aaron said. Jack never stopped supporting his alma mater, from attending Orange Bowls to watching his beloved Buffs play, to his friendship with Chancellor Philip DiStefano and, now, his two bequests.
“Jack cared about CU,” Aaron says, “because he believed that it is fundamentally important for a community and a state to have a strong higher-education system in order to maintain a healthy community.”