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Jay Cope wore a white cowboy hat most of the time. Sometimes it was black. Jay joked that he was representing a plaintiff on the days he wore black.

He signed his court pleadings as, "Joseph Adams Cope," Attorney Registration No. 7633, but everyone knew him as Jay. He was a plain-spoken man with a sense of humor and a keen mind.

Since he began the practice of law in 1976, Jay made his mark in cases from the Western Slope to the Eastern Plains of Colorado. His cases involved real estate, water law, and aviation law. Rock star clients in Pitkin County, as well as city dwellers and rural folk, all valued Jay as a lawyer and trusted friend. He had a wealth of legal knowledge and a remarkable ability to decipher and assimilate arcane facts in complex cases. And, Jay had an easy and confident manner that people liked.

No matter how close Jay was to his next trial or a due date for a brief, Jay made himself available to his clients and colleagues. He took the time to help analyze a problem, to answer a tough question, to lend his knowledge and experience to others.

Jay's law practice involving aviation matters was linked to his background, having served as a pilot in the U.S. Navy. During the Vietnam War, he flew as commander of C-130 aircraft in the Western Pacific and Vietnam. Jay had obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado before enlisting. After his military service, he returned to C.U. to earn his law degree.

Jay was born in the East, but later attended high school in South Dakota. After law school at C.U., Jay remained in the Boulder area. He began his law career with Vranesh and Musick, followed by partnership in Musick and Cope. Since 1991, Jay practiced law with Frascona, Joiner, Goodman and Greenstein, P.C., in Boulder. When not practicing law, Jay was busy tending to his horse ranch, where he lived with his wife, Susan, in Boulder County.

This past year, Jay was diagnosed with cancer. Despite the great difficulties presented by the disease and other complications, Jay remained devoted to his clients and his work. On September 8, 2011, Jay's trials came to an end. He was 66. He is sorely missed.

I am told that, as his fate became apparent, Jay was asked what music he thought would be fitting for a memorial. He said, Anchors Aweigh, and a song by Willie Nelson, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys. Those seem about right. If only there was a suitable song about lawyers, too.

To all who knew Jay, he will always stand tall. In my mind, in my memory, Jay Cope will always wear a white hat.

--Submitted by G. Roger Bock


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