ALL FOR COLL: A crowd of about 300 turned out Monday to pay respects to former Roundhouse legislator Max Coll. Photo by Rob Nikolewski.
By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog
SANTA FE – A crowd of about 300 showed up at the rotunda of the Roundhouse Monday for what can be described as “the last Coll of the House.”
Friends, constituents and fellow colleagues of former state House of Representatives committee chairman Max Coll paid their respects to the legislator who began his New Mexico legislative career as a Republican from Roswell and ended it as a Democrat from Santa Fe.
Former Speaker of the House Raymond Sanchez, D-Belen, quoted Robert Louis Stevenson in describing Coll as “The man is a success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world better than he found it.”
“That to me epitomizes the life of my very good friend, Max Coll,” Sanchez said.
Coll died March 27 at the Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center after suffering a major stroke. Click here to read more about his life.
FISCAL WATCHDOG: Max Coll was known for watching the money at the Roundhouse. In this file photo, a sign on Coll’s desk reads, “What part of THERE IS NO MONEY do you not understand?”
In his second go-around in the Legislature, Coll became an advocate for environmental issues, the arts and health care but as current Speaker of the House W. Ken Martinez, D-Grants, mentioned, Coll was always a strong fiscal conservative.
“He would say, if you spent dollars foolishly you were taking dollars away from other sources,” Martinez said.
Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, remembered how Coll deftly handled his chairmanship of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee until his retirement in 2004. In one session, Democrats were trying to come up with a strategy to battle a complicated bill introduced by a Republican House member. Chasey said Coll’s advice was simple: “He can introduce the bill and we can misunderstand it at our leisure.”
Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela, D-Santa Fe, and state Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, each wore old “Viva Max” campaign buttons while delivering their remarks.
In addition to his legislative career, Coll was a river-rafting enthusiast and one of his colleagues, Associated Press reporter Barry Massey, said Coll “lived as he rode” and said Coll’s talent at negotiating rapids offered him some life lessons: “Look where the current wants to take you and figure out how to make it better.”
New Mexico Watchdog talked to Rep. Varela after the service:
Coll’s wife, Catherine Joyce-Coll, and family members put together a rather unconventional obituary for Coll in the Santa Fe New Mexican. Click here to read it.
Contact Rob Nikolewski at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski