While working on a news story for this week's CW issue on the opening of the art-science museum, The Leonardo, I realized that last Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of the death of Dennis Evans.
Dennis was the bookkeeper for the Leo for quite a few years. When I worked on a cover story about The Leonardo in 2007, I tried to get him to talk to me about the then-struggling Leo, but the one-time investment banker and former Sam Wellers' manager kept his cards close to his chest and wouldn't share if he had, or didn't have, any concerns about the museum's management and its financial course.
Others, notably a "Mr. Leo," were less circumspect. Mr. Leo sent out a faxed list of acerbic questions to the great and the good in town, complaining about the Leonardo back in early 2007. Such was the consternation internally, management supposedly believed it might even have been a reporter trying to stir up trouble.
In a town with few characters, Dennis stood out. You'd see him in the morning on his way to Sam Wellers' for his morning coffee and a puff on his cigar, sitting outside on Main Street, reading the New York Times. His distinctive taste in hat wear and his cigar made him unmistakable from several streets away.
Dennis was an urbane, affable man, who loved good conversation, food and wine. Despite his well known abandonment of the Mormon faith -- within which he had served as a bishop -- a friend of his who attended the LDS chapel funeral complained that Dennis' family had, as it were, returned his remains to Joseph Smith, if not his soul, by giving him a Mormon send-off, complete with LDS burial garments.
The 59-year old passed away at the Leonardo offices, apparently found by one of his colleagues at his desk. What impact his death had on the Leonardo is hard to say, but I would wager that he is missed by many more than just those tired folk at Library Square currently enjoying the first breath of life taken by the Leonardo.