Prominent Boulder attorney and active community member G. Lane Earnest dies at 80

If you go

What: Memorial service for Lane Earnest

When: March 20 at 4 p.m.

Where: First Presbyterian Church, 1820 15th St., Boulder

A prominent Boulder attorney and community member, known affectionately as “Earnie the attorney,” died Saturday at age 80.

George Lane Earnest, who went by G. Lane Earnest, was a founding member of Caplan and Earnest, LLC in Boulder and served as counsel for Boulder Community Hospital, as well as other health facilities, real estate businesses and the University of Colorado Foundation.

“He was just in love with people, and he loved serving people and helping people and making things happen,” said Barbara Earnest, his wife for 59 years.

Lane Earnest dealt with Alzheimer‘s disease for the past five years, according to Barbara Earnest, and moved into the memory care unit at Balfour Senior Living in Louisville about one-and-a-half years ago.

Last week, he fell and injured his hip, Barbara Earnest said. The injury exacerbated his Alzheimer‘s, and he died at Balfour surrounded by his family on Saturday.

“For him, that was so much better, because he could be at rest,” Barbara Earnest said.

During his time at Balfour, Barbara Earnest said he was loved by his caretakers because he was still his personable self.

“I learned a big lesson, going down to Balfour and seeing him every day,” she said. “The Alzheimer‘s patients, they just have so many stories to tell . . . They still have so much life to them.”

Lane Earnest was an “old-fashioned lawyer, in that he wanted to make people happy rather than contentious,” his wife said. He served as counsel for Boulder Community Hospital for more than 20 years and assisted in the acquisition of Boulder Memorial Hospital.

Barbara Earnest said he was “so proud” that Boulder got and retained a community hospital. The labyrinth located behind Foothills Hospital on Arapahoe Avenue is dedicated to him.

Lane Earnest was also known as “Mr. MC” for his time spent as the master of ceremonies for the annual Fourth of July fireworks show at Folsom Fields. Lane Earnest led the event for 30 years, from the 1970s to the 1990s, telling the “silly jokes” and getting the crowd to “oooh” and “aaah” at the display, Barbara Earnest said.

“It was a very patriotic time,” she said. “He loved doing that because he thought it was so important that we retain our patriotism.”

He also served as the master of ceremonies for the ribbon-cutting of the Pearl Street Mall in 1977.

Lane Earnest was born in Platteville and grew up in Denver. He went to the University of Colorado for his undergraduate degree, where he met Barbara Earnest at a party.

The two married after graduating, and Lane Earnest went to the University of Colorado School of Law. They had their daughter Hillary before Lane Earnest joined the Judge Advocate General‘s Corps, where he served as a staff judge advocate at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora. A few years later, son Keith was born.

The couple also has five grandchildren.

Lane Earnest went on to work at the Boulder County District Attorney‘s Office before founding Caplan and Earnest in 1969. He spent time serving as president of the Boulder County Bar Association, Boulder Rotary Club and the University Colorado Alumni Association. In 2002, the University of Colorado School of Law named him a distinguished graduate in private practice.

“The Boulder County Bar Association is grateful for G. Lane Earnest‘s many years of service and contributions both as a board member and president of the organization,” said Greg Martin, a former president of the Boulder County Bar Association. “We send our deepest condolences and join in mourning the loss of such a giant in our legal community.”

Lynn Kuykendall worked with Lane Earnest on legal projects for 32 years and said: “He was a great mentor and friend, and loved being known in Boulder and all over Colorado as “Earnie the attorney.”

Kuykendall‘s wife, Carol Kuykendall, said that Lane Earnest had a unique voice and ability to control a whole room or stadium.

“He was just a fun, well-loved, kind person,” she said. “He lived a full life very well.”

Barbara Earnest said that her husband “loved giving up his time,” even in retirement. He served on several boards and volunteered with business groups, and also helped Barbara Earnest volunteer for Meals on Wheels.

“He just loved Boulder, he loved the community,” Barbara Earnest said. “We‘ve been so fortunate to raise our kids here, live here and be part of the community here.”

He also had a love of teaching, his wife said.

“He loved giving orientations to the new young realtors and teaching them about ethics and the importance of fairness,” she said. Lane Earnest also taught for 30 years at First Presbyterian Church, where he attended services, and served as a Protestant chaplain on various cruise ships while traveling in his retirement.

“He loved the Lord, he loved serving people because that‘s what he believed was his purpose here on earth,” Barbara Earnest said. “We‘ve been richly blessed.”


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