Cecil Carstens

Cecil Carstens (Term of Office 1964 - 1970)

Cecil Carl Carstens was the seventh mayor of Federal Heights. He was elected in April, 1964 and served until May, 1970.

Carstens was born on February 21, 1914 in the small northern Iowa farming town of Burchinal to Adolph Heinrich Carstens and Carrie Retta Amos.  His family moved to Mason City where Cecil attended Mason City High School and was active in the glee club singing second tenor.  Cecil, who was considered one of the outstanding vocalists studying under Mrs. W. L. Bennett and Miss Ellen Smith, performed in Victor Herbert’s “The Fortune Teller,” playing the role of Sergeant Potemkin.

When Cecil graduated from Mason City High School in 1932, he moved to St. Paul, Minnesota and enrolled at the University of Minnesota where he belonged to a fraternity called the “farmhouse.” He was active in the agricultural school at the university, participating in Ag school student leadership, the local Y.M.C.A. and 4-H. After his sophomore year he took three years off and worked in the barberry eradication service of the United States Department of Agriculture. Cecil returned to university for his junior and senior years and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1941 at the age of 26.

During his senior year at the University of Minnesota Cecil registered for the draft. After graduation, he enlisted in the naval reserve as a Yeoman 3rd class on February 21st 1942. Nine months later in Chicago, on November 27th, Ensign Cecil Carstens married Doris Bartlett who had grown up on a farm near him in Iowa. Cecil returned to his station in Canada while Doris remained in Chicago. By October of 1943 Cecil had completed officer training school and been promoted to Lieutenant JG and stationed at San Pedro, California. On April 6, 1944, Lt. Carstens received a medical discharge from the naval reserve after serving for 26 months.

After Cecil’s discharge, a son, Kermit Lee Carstens, was born on July 26, 1944 in Los Angeles. Sometime later, the Carstens returned to the Rockwell area of Iowa where Cecil again worked for the Department of Agriculture as a 4-H agent. On July 18, 1947 the Carstens had two more sons, twin boys Lary Dean and Gary Amos.

In the early 1950s, the Carstens family moved to the Denver area. Ten-year-old Lary, who suffered from emphysema and rheumatic fever, was a pitcher for the Arvada Merchants baseball team. He was quite small and twin brother Gary towered over him, yet at about 50 pounds he shocked opposing batters with the ferocity of his pitches. In two years on the mound, Lary lost four games and won 12, including six in a row. Lary passed away on March 13, 1959. His coach wrote in his obituary, “Larry Carstens died Friday. He was only 11 and he weighed 61 pounds, but he was the best pitcher, pound for pound, in all Jefferson County.”

In 1962, Cecil and Doris purchased property in Federal Heights, 2700 W. 90th Place, and at one time owned two businesses in town - the Parkside Mobile Village and an insurance agency.

In 1964, Cecil ran for mayor and beat incumbent Creal Butters by 11 votes, 191-180. He successfully ran again in 1966 and 1968. During his second term as Mayor and eight years after the death of his son Lary, his son Gary was killed in Vietnam on April 8, 1967. Gary was an assaultman with the 1st Marine Division, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Company E, and was killed by enemy gunfire in a squad engagement during patrol northwest of Dien Ban. It was his third week at Quang Nam, Vietnam. Gary was awarded the Purple Heart and is listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., Panel 17E, Line 120. The Gary A. Carstens Park in Federal Heights is named in memory of the mayor’s son and his name is associated with two area VFW posts: VFW-Post 4444, Currie-Toles-Gary A. Carstens in Commerce City and VFW Post 9332, Gary A. Carstens Post, Westminster. Gary is buried next to his brother Lary at Crown Hill Cemetery in Wheatridge.

During Cecil Carstens’ tenure as Mayor of Federal Heights, the Town Board completed three annexations, doubling the number of voters in Federal Heights, and adopted 57 ordinances regulating junk, dogs, zoning, traffic, water, open burning, and municipal court. On September 2, 1969, the Town Board adopted Ordinance No. 94 to authorize the issuance of water bonds in the amount of $60,000 for the purpose of supplying the Town with water. After serving six years as Mayor and taking a two-year break, Carstens successfully ran for Town Board in 1972, resigning in June 1973.

Mayor Carstens was very active as a member of the Colorado Commission on Aging and remained active after his time as mayor. He served as city administrator in Silverthorne for two years in the mid-1970s. Cecil and Doris lived in Greeley for a while and then moved to Grand Junction where Cecil died of congestive heart failure on June 29th, 1984. He was 70 years old. Carstens is buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery, Denver.