DENVER (CBS4) – Coloradans are mourning the loss of a man who helped shape Denver’s performing arts scene.
Donald Seawell, founder of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 103.
In the 1970s, Seawell’s vision for the complex that currently houses the DCPA took shape. He was aiming to build “the finest performing arts complex in the world,” according to a YouTube video released by the DCPA that pays tribute to his life.
Seawell also spent time with the Denver Post, eventually becoming president, CEO and publisher.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is among those who are remembering Seawell. On Wednesday night he tweeted that “Seawell’s love of the arts influenced many, including myself.”
Denver lost a giant. An inspiration & visionary, Donald Seawell's love of the arts influenced many, including myself. http://t.co/VPzgtKhJOC—
Michael B. Hancock (@MayorHancock) October 01, 2015
The following is an excerpt from a timeline of Seawell’s life, featured on denvercenter.org.
– Aug. 1, 1912: Born in Jonesboro, N.C.
– 1940s: During World War II, he works in counterintelligence in preparation for the invasion of France.
– 1956: Takes on Denver Post heiress Helen G. Bonfils as a client in New York, where his private practice already represents a stable of legendary actors and producers.
– 1966: Seawell relocates to Colorado to help Bonfils withstand a hostile takeover attempt of The Denver Post.
– 1972: Helen Bonfils dies, leaving a will that names Seawell president and chairman of the board of The Post. Within weeks of her death, two private Bonfils foundations run by Seawell are merged to fund the creation of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA).
– 1978: The 2,700-seat Boettcher Concert Hall opens at the DCPA at 14th and Curtis streets. The ensuing years witness the renovation of the Auditorium Theatre and construction of the Helen G. Bonfils Theatre Complex and the Buell Theatre.
– 1980: Amid criticism that he abandoned his interest in The Post to pour his energies in the DCPA, Seawell sells the financially struggling paper for $95 million to Times Mirror, the first out-of-state owners in the paper’s history.
1998: The $16 million Donald R. Seawell Grand Ballroom, situated atop the Denver Performing Arts Complex, is unveiled.