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Donald Margolis

December 29, 1937 — September 5, 2023

Don “Rocky” Margolis
December 29, 1937 – September 5, 2023

Donald William “Rocky” Margolis, passed away at age 85 on September 5, 2023, in home hospice care with his loved ones at his side.

Born on December 29, 1937, at Chicago’s Mount Sinai Hospital, Don grew up in the great westside ghetto of Chicago. He attended Marshall High School for two years and then graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1955. As a City of Chicago High School swimming champion, Don parlayed his swimming skill into a park district lifeguard position (McKinley and River) over seven high school and college summers. He attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where he earned a B.S. in Chemistry in 1959, and a Juris Doctor in Law in 1962. He was a T.A. in chemistry during his 3 years in law school.

While at the University of Illinois, Don met his wife, Barbara Tobor. After one year of law school, they married at the Drake Hotel in Chicago on June 19, 1960. The couple lived in Champaign and Chicago, Adelphi, MD., and Wappingers Falls/Poughkeepsie, NY before IBM brought them to Boulder in 1966. Barbara and Donald celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary before she preceded him in death on November 22, 2015.

Don served as a patent attorney for US Gypsum and IBM. He specialized in intellectual property law, trademarks, copyrights, patents, trade secrets, and licensing. He helped IBM issue several patents in the then nascent area of magnetic data storage media in the 1970s. He founded the Rocky Mountain Inventors Congress in 1978 and served as a president and director. He entered private practice after his time at IBM, where he administered hundreds of patents. In 1984, Don was a founder of Cherokee Data Systems which manufactured hardened optical drives for military and industrial applications.

Don specialized in intellectual property law, trademarks, copyrights, patents, trade secrets, and licensing. He was admitted to practice before the Supreme Courts of Colorado and Illinois, several Federal Courts, and the US Patent and Trademark Office. He was a member of the American Bar, Colorado Bar, and Patent Bar associations. He founded the Colorado Innovation Society, Rocky Mountain Computer Forum, and the Biotechnology Roundtable. He was a past chair of the Patent Section of the Colorado Bar, the Boulder Bar Business Law Section, and the Roche Advisory Panel.

Don spent many hours devoted to community service. He was on the board of the Boulder YMCA in its infancy, where he also participated in the Indian Guides and Trailblazers with his sons and served as regional chief. Don was an active member and past president of the Boulder Optimist Luncheon Club and participated in the Rotary Club, to which he was voted a Life Membership in 2018.

In all his associations with Boulder non-profit organizations, Don will best be remembered for his legacy at Congregation Har HaShem in Boulder. As a founding member, he and Barbara literally helped build the synagogue from the day of groundbreaking. In addition to being one of the first treasurers, he enthusiastically worked on many committees, fundraising campaigns, and community events over the six decades of his affiliation with the synagogue.

Don lived his final years at the Pearl (formerly Carillon) retirement community. Although failing health prevented him from participating fully during the last year, he was sharp until the end.

Don is survived by three sons Scott (Michele nee Volland) of Tierra Verde, FL, Jeffrey (Deborah nee Hult) of Corona del Mar, CA and Gary of Boulder; grandchildren Michael, Alexandria, Allegra, Seth, and Abrianna; two great granddaughters and a great grandson. He was preceded in death by his parents, Reuben and Ollie, and sister Naomi Gem.

There will be a funeral service for Don on September 10th, 1:00 p.m. at Congregation Har HaShem on the Margolis Family Campus, followed by interment at Green Mountain Cemetery.

Memorial donations can be made to Congregation Har HaShem, 3950 Baseline Road, Boulder, CO 80303 (
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Donald Margolis, please visit our flower store.

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Sunday, September 10, 2023

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Green Mountain Cemetery

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