Shirley Archuleta Siek

Former Durango resident Shirley Archuleta Siek died Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in Denver. She was 79.

Born in 1933, Mrs. Siek was a multiple-generation Colorado native and one of eight children. She grew up in Silverton and Durango. Her mother, Elenore Archuleta, died when Mrs. Siek was 11. Her father, Joseph Archuleta, was a union hard-rock miner from the age of 12 in Silverton, laboring for $1 per day. He died of black lung disease at 39, when Mrs. Siek was 15.

After her father’s death, she moved to Durango with her little brother, working while the two of them attended Durango High School. Mrs. Siek graduated in 1952.

In 1953, she married Robert Stratton in Durango. The marriage later ended in divorce.

Mrs. Siek was a health professional, serving as administrative director of the San Juan Basin Health Department. She was later appointed by Gov. Roy Romer to the Colorado State Board of Health. During her years in Durango, she raised her first family, was a bowling champion, skier, Toastmistresses State Speaking Champion and a member of the League of Women Voters. She was an early feminist and civil- and equal-rights activist, her family said.

Mrs. Siek had lived in Denver since 1972.

In November 1972, she married Robert Siek in Denver.

In Denver, she was the business manager for the law firm of Don, Hiller & Galleher.

Mrs. Siek became one of the state’s leading Democratic activists, her son Michael Stratton said. She served as a national, state and local party official, serving with the late Geraldine Ferraro on the Democratic National Committee’s National Platform Committee in 1983. She attended numerous state conventions and was elected a delegate to two national Democratic conventions.

Mr. and Mrs. Siek traveled around Colorado, the United States, Europe, Asia, South America and the South Pacific. In recent years, Mrs. Siek stayed at home with a rare debilitating immune disorder.

“Shirley’s life and work helped to break through many barriers around ethnicity and gender so we can all be who we dream to be,” said FEMA Regional Administrator Robin Finegan. “The Shirley Sieks of the world paved the way with tremendous grace and dignity.”

Mrs. Siek is survived by her husband of 40 years, Bob Siek, of Denver; children Michael Stratton and Robert D. Siek, Jr., both of Denver, and Cynthia L. Bates of Colorado Springs; siblings, Gregory Archuleta and Gloria Aragon, both of Denver; five grandchildren; and one great-grandson.

A private family service is pending.

In lieu of flowers, online condolences may be sent at