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Former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong, a leading voice in conservative politics for decades and president of Colorado Christian University in Lakewood since 2006, died July 5 following a five-year battle with cancer. He was 79.

William L. Armstrong served in the state House (1963-64) and state Senate (1965-72), before being elected to the U.S. House (1973-78) and Senate (1979-1990).

“Our nation lost a great public servant, whose mark on Colorado and this country embodies the virtues of liberty, faith and family,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, said in a statement released online. “His booming voice, piercing gaze and love of fellow patriots will never be forgotten.

“So many people in Colorado were brought to conservative ideas and optimism through Senator Armstrong. The United States is a better place because of his grace, humility and boundless spirit.”

During his tenure in the U.S. Senate, Armstrong was a member of the finance, budget and banking committees and spent six years as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.

Armstrong, who was born in Fremont, Nebraska, and most recently lived in Cherry Hills Village, is survived by his wife of nearly 54 years, Ellen, two children and eight grandchildren.

In February, Armstrong announced he would be retiring as president of Colorado Christian later this year.

“The last 10 years have been an unforgettable experience for Ellen and me,” Armstrong stated in a news release posted on CCU’s website.

Gary Armstrong, chairman of the school’s board of trustees, credits Bill Armstrong with leading CCU through a period of “unprecedented growth.”

“His impact will be felt for generations,” said Armstrong, who is not related to the former senator.

“Beyond his achievements, President Armstrong’s true legacy was his focus on Jesus, and his enthusiasm for CCU and all who are a part of it.”

Before taking the post at the school, Armstrong was a longtime businessman “who owned and operated more than a dozen private companies,” according to a CCU news release.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, praised Armstrong for continuing to follow his passions.

“When public officials leave office they often disappear and are never heard from again,” Coffman wrote in an emailed statement, “but Senator Armstrong had a passion for fighting for conservative causes that started from the day when he was first elected to office in 1962 to his final days at Colorado Christian University.”

Services for Armstrong will be held at Cherry Hills Community Church, 3900 Grace Blvd., Highlands Ranch, with visitation scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. July 14 and the funeral set for 10:30 a.m. July 15.