Donald R. Seawell
An invitation came from Judi Wolf, “The red haired dynamo wolf,” who has cared for Donald R. Seawell for many years while Wolf’s husband Marvin purchased the groceries. This was probably a challenge with the great culinary taste of Donald’s food and beverages.
The invite was to attend a memorial celebration for this great Denver icon down at The Denver Center for the Performing Arts in the Seawell Ballroom, which was dedicated to his late wife.
There we all were, nicely dressed for the occasion and seeing a great many local friends.
Almost precisely at 5 p.m. the procession of speakers marched to the stage and a breathtaking program ensued.
Chaired by the Wolf, who has served in many, many nonprofit roles, she gave a brief welcome and the program began with a live performance of There’s No Business Like Show Business performed by Michael Fitzpatrick, Mary Louse Lee, M. Scott McLean, Jeffrey Roark, Christine Rowan, Lauren Shealy and Shannan Steele.
The next accolade came from the top with Gov. John Hickenlooper, wearing a tie, giving a stirring tribute to his long-time friend and dinner companion. The governor related in his tributes that what he remembered most about Don was that he seemed to know everyone. The 500 friends in the audience could relate to that statement.
The governor spoke of his association with Broadway stars, titans of industry, among them Post Publisher Dean Singleton, who later acknowledge the prowess of his predecessor at The Denver Post.
The governor related that Seawell’s passion for the arts was infectious.
“Don lived and breathed the arts, and he worked tirelessly to share that love with others,” Hickenlooper said.
Another interlude of singing best described Donald’s life with the number, My Way.
Tributes were made by Scott Shiller who worked decades under Mr. Seawell’s keen sight and intuition.
A description of The Denver Center for the Performing Arts was shown with Mr. Seawell’s drawing of the complex on an envelope that later became reality in concrete and stone.
Another Denver icon, Daniel Ritchie, spoke of having followed Seawell at the Center, relating that it wasn’t always an easy task, but they were fast friends and comrades in arms for the arts.
Granddaughter Brett Wibur expressed her love and admiration for her grandfather, relating a recent telephone conversation with him at age 103. The three Seawell grandchildren, who seem extremely talented like Wibur, definitely got their grandfather’s genes.
They Can’t Take That Away from Me was another vocal selection, followed by brief statements by new Center arrival Kent Thompson, who has many tough acts to follow in his new role as producing artistic director for DCPA Theatre Co.
Singleton expressed his admiration for his fellow newspaper associate and read a legal decision attributed to Seawell’s legal acumen about newspapers really belonging to the people in the community that they serve. Singleton said that they both used that to defend The Post on occasion, and sometimes it worked the other way, as he acquired more than 160 publications in his illustrious career, now retired from active Post management.
Dean, “Hick” and Don were occasional diners at the Denver Country Club where the meals began with a bottle of Champagne selected by the “Don.”
The tributes were interlaced with melodies and I Will Always Love You performed by Mary Louise Lee, first lady of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, was breathtaking and memorable.
The program ended with Wolf bidding Don’s friends adieu to the music of Give My Regards to Broadway. This was a great show.
The only sad thing about the great memorial celebration was that Seawell wasn’t seated in the audience. He would still be clapping in his dapper suit and handsome stature.
As they all related, he was a great gentleman and loved the arts, matching them to our mountains.
Thank you, Judi.
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