Spotlight COlorado  

Have You Met?

With his powerful, persuasive voice and Hollywood good looks, internationally known attorney, Doug Tisdale, might just be one of the most unique people you will ever meet. There’s a lot more to the always charming, enthusiastic and fascinating Doug Tisdale.   From observing him during the many different roles he plays, Tisdale borders on brilliance – and has the tender soul of a misunderstood composer or artist of long ago. What keeps him strong is a joy and respect for life and a belief in God that can always bring the light back into his life.  
As far as his professional law attributes, Tisdale possesses globally recognized experience in the fields of Civil Litigation; Civil Appeals; Banking Litigation; Real Estate Litigation; and Bankruptcy. For three decades, the seasoned lawyer has helped his clients in the successful resolution of all levels of commercial disputes and problems.
As a private citizen, Doug serves on the Board of the Colorado Neurological Institute and served on the Board of the Vail Valley Medical Center and was the Board chair of the Eagle Health Care Center.  

Doug has an irrepressible passion for educating people, and particularly women, about the risk and the treatment of stroke. Mr. Tisdale can’t stress enough that – in addition to someone dying of a stroke every three minutes - each year, strokes kill twice as many American women as breast cancer. 

Doug’s desire to create positive action and change for stroke victims and their families comes from his own personal and remarkably moving experience. On, January 6, 2004, his beloved wife, Pat, was a victim of a stroke.  As Doug tells us that on that bleak day, Dr. Don Smith, one of the leading experts on stroke in the United States, had the difficult task of explaining to him what a stroke is, what it can do, and what it had done to the love of his life, his wife Pat.  

Pat Tisdale was a partner in the law firm of Holme, Roberts, & Owen.  She was - by all accounts - the premiere municipal attorney in Colorado.  Mrs. Tisdale was a woman of great talent, great skill, great intellect and great beauty. She was the mother of four beautiful children; and she was not a candidate for stroke. But on January 4, 2004, she had a stroke at the Tisdale home in Vail. She was rushed to the Vail Valley Medical Center. The emergency room physicians did all they could to save her, but they made a decision to transport Pat to Denver so she could be treated by the stroke experts at Swedish Medical Center.  

As much as Doug as his family prayed for her recovery, it wasn't to be. Pat Tisdale passed away on January 6th, two days after the onset of her stroke. At that moment, Doug’s life was transformed.  Doug Tisdale was determined that "no man should ever be as helpless, as clueless as he was about stroke."  He became totally committed in his support for the education and outreach programs of the Colorado Neurological Institute (CNI).   Doug discovered that with early diagnosis and the appropriate care and medicine, you CAN survive a stroke.  

Along with CNI, Mr. Tisdale was instrumental in unveiling one of the most effective medical diagnosis and treatment programs for stroke – the CO-DOC. Since board-certified neurologists and neurosurgeons can’t always be on call 24 hours a day, the CO-DOC telemedicine unit - a sort of virtual doctor - connects a regional physician on a real-time basis with the leading practitioners in stroke medicine today therefore providing information within seconds that can help save the life of a stroke patient.  

Tisdale is impressive, strong and versatile. He perseveres and doesn’t allow himself to get defeated.  He goes on to get things done.  As a popular emcee and auctioneer at charitable events, he creates an environment where people are engaged and involved in the process and want to contribute. In fact, Mr. Tisdale has shamed many of us into giving at numerous paddle raiser events.

Doug Tisdale’s heart and intentions are pure…. Of all the opportunities calling to him, he wants to get back to his first love – acting, singing and performing. With his many talents - Doug Tisdale surely has what it takes to stand out from the crowd. 

Who is the most interesting person you have ever met? My late wife, Patricia C. Brennan Tisdale, Esq., was not only the most incredible person I ever met, she was also the most interesting. She was the premiere municipal law attorney in the State of Colorado during her professional lifetime, as well as one of the state’s experts on eminent domain (condemnation) law. She headed up the Public Law Practice Group at Holme Roberts & Owen LLP. Pat never had to research the law: she just remembered it. She might forget what she had for lunch, but she could tell you what the three most significant cases were affecting inverse condemnation cases at DIA and which justices were on which side of the issue. All the while she continued to raise our four children, schedule our lives, plan trips, give continuing legal education lectures, serve as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for St. Mary’s Academy, consult with the Colorado Municipal League, get appointed to the Board of Denver Catholic Charities, and deliver Meals on Wheels to shut-ins once a month.

What word best describes your life right now? Transitions. After practicing law at four different law firms (Brownstein Hyatt & Farber; Popham Haik; Baker & Hostetler; Tisdale & Associates) for over a third of a century, I am embarking on a two year sabbatical from the practice of law. I intend to take the time to explore my feelings, my emotions, and my new status in life. I have insulated myself from that side of me over the last almost five years, burying myself in my work and the needs of my clients. Now I intend to write, to teach, to act and to sing.

What charitable organizations are you involved with at this time? I am the immediate past chair of the Colorado Neurological Institute, the largest neurological institute between Chicago and the West Coast. I have been on the CNI board for the past four years and have been particularly involved in the stroke program.

I am on the Legacy Board of Cerebral Palsy of Colorado. For the last fifteen years I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve as the live auctioneer for their annual Wine in the Pines event at Keystone. It was at Wine in the Pines that I developed my Three Rules of Charity Auctions: Rule number one, it’s for charity! Rule number two, have fun! Rule number three, when in doubt, refer to rule number one: it's for charity!

I am one of the Friends of Arapahoe House Foundation, and have been lucky to serve as their charity auctioneer for their Pillars of the Community Galas.

Over the years I have been involved with a number of charitable organizations through my charity auctioneering activities. These have included the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Mental Health America Colorado, the Dominican Vocation Foundation, St. Mary's Academy, Lafayette Lasso charitable fund, and many others. I'm looking forward to doing the Cancer League of Colorado live auction at their gala on my sixtieth birthday next year.

Although, they don't qualify as "charitable" activities, I served as a member of the Cherry Hills Village City Council for the past eight years, including the last two years as Mayor Pro Tem. I served on the board of the Denver Regional Council of Governments for six years, where our meetings and retreats were always entertaining, including a singing performance by me at our last retreat. I also served on the policy committee of the Colorado Municipal League for a number of years.

Is there a nonprofit event you really look forward to attending each year? All of them are a great deal of fun and a tremendous opportunity to network with old friends and make new friends. I have enjoyed the creativity and imagination of the CNI gala each year, where we first introduced the concept of "Dancing for a Cause" to Colorado several years ago. But I suppose I would have to say that the weekend in Keystone for Cerebral Palsy’s Wine in the Pines is my favorite. We have 150 people who join us for the winemaker's dinner on Friday night and then over 800 people who join us for a huge live auction in the Keystone Conference Center on Saturday night. The event brings together a tremendous collection of people from all around the country eager to support the efforts of CP of Colorado.

What is your fondest childhood memory? I grew up moving around the country a lot. In a spirit of full disclosure (my lawyer training remains with me), I was born in Detroit in 1949. We moved to the suburb of Allen Park when I was three. My brother Chucky died in 1958, when he was 12 years old. My parents took that very hard and we began an odyssey around the western United States. We started out in Denver for a while (my Mother had a Detroit friend who lived on Vista Road in Cherry Hills Village) and then settled in the San Francisco area for a while. After a year there, we returned to Detroit for a spell and then moved to Phoenix for the next school year. We were still looking for the right place, a place where my father could find a good sales job that would provide a living for his wife and son, and where my parents could find peace after their great loss.

My fondest memory was the night at the end of my sixth grade year in Phoenix when the three of us gathered in my parents’ bedroom. We decided that, as beautiful as Arizona was, we weren't sure it was the right place for us. We took one of my father's hats and placed in it five scraps of paper. On each scrap we had written the names of five different cities: Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco. We decided that we would move one more time (if necessary), and that we would decide where by picking the name out of a hat. Pop and Mom decided that I would pull the name out of the hat. We figured that God would guide my hand. I knew that I said a prayer that it would be Los Angeles. Excitedly, and without demonstrating any of the nervousness that I ought to have felt, I put my hand in the hat, moved it around, and extracted a scrap of paper on which were written the words, "Los Angeles." Within two weeks, the U-Haul trailer was packed and we drove our Chevy along Route 66 to its very end. And it was in Southern California that I spent four of the most important and formative years of my childhood.

If you were to write an autobiography, what would the title be? I might be tempted to steal the title of one of my models and mentors, Bing Crosby. His autobiography was entitled, “Call Me Lucky!” I definitely feel that I have been very lucky in my life. Pat and I were lucky enough to be married for thirty-one years and one week and to have four beautiful, talented and loving children. I just hope I’m lucky enough to have my luck finally run out only when I do.

Who is your hero? My heroes have always been my employers. Brooke Wunnicke (still going strong at 90!) taught me how to be an advocate. Chief Judge Alfred A. Arraj inspired me to be considered and temperate, informed and decisive, hard working and loyal. Jack Hyatt taught me how to be an effective lawyer and a cautious investor.

What is your idea of a perfect vacation? A two part vacation. First, a week rafting down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, enjoying the thrill of the white water rapids washing over the bow of the boat. Then, to recover from the experience, a week enjoying the Pampelonne Beach at St Tropez in the south of France, with long leisurely lunches at Club 55 and Kai Largo during the somewhat somnolent season of September.

What’s been the key to the success and growth of the Colorado Neurological Institute? Inspired leadership, particularly as epitomized by Luanne Williams, our Executive Director. We are blessed with an active, committed and well-connected board that has enjoyed excellent chairmen, the most recent being Dr. Richard Kelley, one of the great hoteliers of Hawaii and a fellow Cherry Hills Village resident. The vision of these leaders has helped expand our programs and increase our outreach, even in trying economic times.

In order to thrive and survive in the corporate workplace, we sometimes have to desensitize ourselves in order to get ahead. Not being real and authentic, isn’t that a big sacrifice to make? I think it depends on what you mean by desensitize. I would never choose to – and would never suggest that anyone – sacrifice their genuineness and authenticity. To sacrifice those is to sacrifice yourself. That said, it is a great skill to be able to rise above the things that do not truly matter, to ignore the irrelevant. In recent years it has become fashionable to applaud those who have no verbal filter, admiring their candor and encouraging the expression of their unfiltered feelings. That unbridled channeling of invective serves no one and no purpose. One can still be true to one’s self and one’s values, and not sacrifice them, without trying to turn the exercise into an opportunity to belittle and demean another. Perhaps some increased attention to simple rules of civility will reduce the need to desensitize and similarly reduce the risk of sacrificing genuineness and authenticity.

How does one hold on to their true self and still become successful? One of my favorite quotes is from Justice Felix Frankfurter. I would use it each year when speaking to new law school members of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. It was my way of encouraging them to try alternate paths in their careers. Frankfurter said, “Any pursuit is great, if greatly pursued!” That lesson has been taught by great people of all generations. A corollary was phrased by Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who encouraged people to do the little things in life well. I have found in my own life that pursuing things greatly, even if they are little things, has served me very well. I suppose it begs the question, Can you succeed in life without being true to yourself? I think the answer is yes, but the deeper question is, why would you want to?

How do you stay so passionate and committed to what you are doing? Ever since I was a boy, people said that I had three speeds: on, really on, and off. The President of Loyola High School spoke to my parents when I had won a series of awards at a ceremony in LA. They told him that we were moving to Detroit and that I would finish high school at the University of Detroit High School. He said, “Doug is very talented, and he knows it. Praise him a little, but step on him a lot!” I don’t know where the passion came from. Perhaps it’s because I’m half Italian. My mother’s parents were born in a tiny mountain town south of Modena in the north of Italy. Whatever the source, the passion is there and has shown no signs of diminishing over the decades.

When does someone know when it’s time to move on? Almost invariably about three months after it was time to do so. The question really is how can you anticipate that time? I suppose the only advice I can give is to note when your face starts getting tired. When you smile, your face is relaxed and feels no strain. When you lose the smile, your face is tense and grows tired from the strain. So if your face is tired, you have stopped smiling. It may be time to move on.

What are your favorite leisure time activities or hobbies? This is two questions. My favorite activities are reading, skiing, golf, hiking and drinking fine wine on a golden afternoon looking at a beautiful vista of mountains or the ocean. My most frequent leisure time activities are updating a network of eight computers at home, trimming the trees that the landscaper missed, re-wiring sound and video on some of my home theatre systems, and thinking about how much I want to pursue my favorite leisure time activities. Now you see some of the impetus for the sabbatical!

Is there a special “aha” moment in your life when you knew “I get it now!”? Any time a loved one has passed away – my brother, my mother, my father, my wife – I have experienced an “aha” moment. I have understood then the incredible healing, and destructive, power of love. I have felt the loss and felt pain. I have recalled the pleasure of their company and their love, and felt peace.

Is there a saying, motto, or “words to live by” that is your favorite? My father was a salesman and had to live through many ups and downs through economic cycles. He had a nameplate made for his desk a number of years ago. It had his name on one side, the side that customers would see. And on the other side – the side that he would always look at – he had it inscribed, “This too will pass.” I keep that nameplate in my office now.

What is your favorite book? magazine? And movie of all times? I own something over 2,000 volumes in my personal library at home. I love reading and re-reading a wide variety of literature: Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, (fellow U of D Hi grad) Elmore Leonard, John Grisham, Mitch Albom, Arthur Miller. An emotional favorite, even though not great literature is Grisham’s “Skipping Christmas.” It served as the motivation for Pat and me to take our four children with us on a Carnival cruise for our thirtieth wedding anniversary over Christmas in 2002. I enjoy reading Colorado Expression, 5280, (American Express Platinum’s) Departures, and travel magazines. I get my hard news from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

My favorite movie of all time is “Robin and the 7 Hoods” (Warner Bros. 1964), because of the great music and because of an emotional tie. On November 22, 1963 the movie production company was set up in the Rosedale Cemetery across the street from Loyola High School where I was a freshman. They were filming a funeral scene and were firing off a salute to the Edward G. Robinson character. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Falk were there. Because Sinatra and Martin were Catholics, they came across the street to Loyola to speak with the principal and to see the library that co-star Bing Crosby had donated to Loyola in honor of Bing’s late wife, Dixie Lee Crosby. While there they, and the entire Loyola student body, learned that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas, just minutes after the gun shots were fired during filming. It was a lasting impression made on all of us.

What is the biggest challenge you are dealing with in your life at this time? Trying to discern how to relate with women following the loss of my wife. It is a great challenge to balance the memory of Pat and my love for her with the possibility of a new relationship that I would hope to enjoy for the rest of my life. It is a daunting task, and one that I never expected I would have to face, but I have faith that I will find a solution through the course of my sabbatical, which will afford me the time and the energy to address this challenge.

What is your biggest fear? That millions of Americans will be harmed irreparably by the current economic crisis because of the inability of politicians to act as statesmen, but rather succumb to the temptation to continue to act as bagmen for investment bankers who are more concerned about their annual bonuses than adding real value to free markets.

What do you like the most about yourself? I like the re-prioritized person that I have become over the past four years, understanding the importance of love, life, family and friends, and learning to treasure them now, as opposed to thinking that I will have time to treasure them later.

Would you say you are living your true destiny? As I am now embarking on a new path in my life I would say that I am living out my true destiny, which has been shaped and formed by all that has come before. It’s an exciting time!

What do you think molded you into the person you are today? Moving around a lot as a boy definitely helped me become a person adaptable to change. I had to be ready, willing and able to make friends quickly. My father’s skills as a salesman definitely helped me with that. It was said of my father, “Chuck Tisdale is amazing! You meet him for the first time and it’s like you’ve known him all your life!” I’ve tried to be that same kind of person.

What do you love most about making your home in Colorado? I first visited Colorado – and Cherry Hills Village – in 1956. I knew then that I wanted to come back here someday. I fell in love with the mountains, the sunsets, the sunshine and the change of seasons. I have loved making a life and raising a family here.

When you were a young boy, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? When I was a young boy I told everyone that I wanted to be an actor. And for the first 20 years of my life I was. Then I gave up acting for litigating. Wait a minute! Maybe I didn’t give up acting after all!

Is there something you still want to learn how to do in your lifetime? To speak Italian really well. I can do it passably well, and have gotten around easily in Venice and Umbria and Rome and Emiglia-Romagna, but I want to go back and be mistaken for a native speaker.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? Raising four healthy, confident, dedicated and involved children.

What’s in the future for Doug Tisdale? New relationships. New adventures. New horizons. New performances. Published writings. … And grandchildren.

How do you want to be remembered by future generations? A man who lived and loved well, and left the world better than he found it.

If you could go back 30 years ago, what do you wish you knew then that you know now – or what advice would you offer a person of, let’s say, 30 years old today? - In a nutshell, what have you learned? Take nothing for granted. Cherish each moment of your life. Always put family and friends first. Worry more about doing good than doing well. Kiss and hug your spouse every opportunity you get. And know that you can never wear out the phrase, “I love you.”