Joseph Coors

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Joseph Coors
Born (1917-11-12)November 12, 1917
Golden, Colorado
Died March 15, 2003(2003-03-15) (aged 85)
Rancho Mirage, California
Cause of death Lymphoma
Resting place El Camino Memorial Park, Sorrento Valley, San Diego, California[1]
Employer Coors Brewing Company

Joseph "Joe" Coors, Sr. (November 12, 1917 – March 15, 2003), was the grandson of brewer Adolph Coors and president of Coors Brewing Company.[2]

Birth and education[edit]

Coors was born in 1917 to Alice May Kistler (1885-1970) and Adolph Coors II. His siblings include Adolph Coors III and William Coors. He graduated from Cornell University in 1939 with a degree in chemical engineering, staying to earn a master's degree in 1940. His brother Adolph Coors III and cousin Dallas Morse Coors were his classmates, and all three were members of Kappa Alpha Society and Quill and Dagger society.


He married Edith Holland "Holly" Hanson (Holly Coors) (1920-2009) in 1941 and had five sons, Jeffrey "Jeff", Joseph "Joe" Jr. (1942-2016),[3][4] Grover, John, and Peter "Pete" (1946-).[5] He divorced Holly in 1987, and married Anne Elizabeth Drotning in 1988.

Brewing career[edit]

After graduation, he began work in the Coors Porcelain Co., the porcelain business that helped the company survive Prohibition. With his brother William Coors (whose desks were located only one foot apart), Joseph refined the cold-filtered beer manufacturing system and began America's first large-scale recycling program by offering 1-cent returns on Coors aluminum cans. He served one term as a regent of the University of Colorado in 1967-1972, attempting to quell what he considered to be campus radicalism during the Vietnam war. He served as president of Coors in 1977-1985, and chief operating officer in 1980-1988. His leadership helped expand Coors beer distribution from 11 Western states in the 1970s to the entire USA by the early 1990s.


Coors was perhaps best known for his conservative politics, including his support of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, whom he first met in Palm Springs, California in 1967. His brother William Coors once described him as "a little bit right of Attila the Hun".[6] A founding member of the conservative Washington Heritage Foundation think tank in 1973 along with Paul Weyrich and Edwin Feulner (which formulated many of Reagan's campaign ideas), Coors provided $250,000 to cover its first year budget, and $300,000/year thereafter.[6] He was also involved with the founding of the Free Congress Foundation and the Council for National Policy. He was a member of Ronald Reagan's Kitchen Cabinet after helping finance Reagan's political career as governor of California and U.S. president, and was later nominated by Reagan to sit on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.[2]

In the 1970s, despite his father inviting union representation in 1934, Coors decided to bar trade unions from his plants, precipitating a 20-month strike in August 1977 - December 1978 by the Brewery Workers Local 366 in Golden, Colorado.[7] The company eventually won, but suffered a 10-year boycott of its beers by outraged members of the AFL-CIO. In the aftermath of his anti-union campaign, Coors required new employees to take lie detector tests, which were discontinued in August 1986.[7]

In 1977 after a regional agreement prevented the movement of toxic aluminum waste from aluminum can production across adjacent state borders, Coors set up the Mountain States Legal Foundation, headed by local lawyer James G. Watt to fight the environmental constraints in the courts. Watt later became U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and appointed local attorney Anne Gorsuch as head of the Environmental Protection Agency to dismantle toxic waste disposal laws, causing an outcry that got her sacked by Reagan after 22 months, after which Watt was forced to resign for politically-insensitive remarks; in the end, a score of the appointees pushed on the administration by Coors and his group were criminally convicted for their part in the environmental fiasco.

Coors was also known to have privately donated $65,000 to buy a light cargo plane for the Contras' effort in Nicaragua during Reagan's presidency. That donation went through National Security Council adviser Oliver North.[8][9]


Coors died in Rancho Mirage, California, after a three-month battle with lymphatic cancer.[2]


  1. ^ Joseph M. "Joe" Coors, Sr at Find a Grave
  2. ^ a b c "Brewery magnate Joseph Coors dies at 85". Associated Press. March 17, 2003. Joseph Coors, who used his brewing fortune to support President Reagan and help create the conservative Heritage Foundation, has died at age 85. Coors, whose grandfather founded Adolph Coors Co. in 1873, died Saturday in Rancho Mirage, Calif., after a three-month battle with lymphatic cancer. 
  3. ^ Denver Post, Sept. 23, 2012
  4. ^ "Joe Coors Jr., of the Coors brewing family, dies". USA Today. September 16, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Joseph Coors, Sr". NNDB. Retrieved 2007-08-26. 
  6. ^ a b The Guardian, Mar. 19, 2003
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ Blanchard, William H. Neocolonialism American Style, 1960-2000. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood P, 1996.
  9. ^