Sidney Levin, writer and real estate investor who was the first editor of TV Guide in the western U.S., and who launched a successful venture to revive Denver’s historic Buckhorn Exchange steakhouse and remained one of its owners, died Jan. 17. He was 88 and lived in Greenwood Village.
Levin wrote for The Davenport (Iowa) Daily Times before moving west to Denver in 1953, where he became editor of the Western edition of TV Guide, building it into a major publication that mirrored the explosive growth of television during its early days in Colorado. After TV Guide was purchased by Walter Annenberg, Levin went into real estate – in 1978, assembling a partnership including real estate developers Roi Davis and Marvin Naiman and Colorado ski pioneer Steve Knowlton, to acquire the Buckhorn Exchange, Denver’s oldest restaurant, founded in 1893, which by the 1970s was struggling for survival under its original family owners.
The Buckhorn, which early-on had been a bar, restaurant, paycheck exchange and house of prostitution beside the railyards a mile southwest of Larimer Street, thrived under its renewal by Levin and his partners, who marketed a history that highlighted its guns and other western memorabilia, including numerous photos of famous patrons including Buffalo Bill and President Teddy Roosevelt. By the 1990s, its buffalo steaks and other exotic game fair had drawn an international clientele, prompting Levin to print a menu in Japanesea.
Levin and his partners then acquired the historic Carnegie Library in downtown Littleton, which in 1986 they launched into the Kandahar, a ski-themed restaurant celebrating Colorado’s Tenth Mountain Division in which Knowlton had been a veteran. The library (it’s now leased as the Melting Pot restaurant) is still owned by the partnership. Levin remained active in Denver commercial real estate and was involved in preservation of buildings along Denver’s Sixteenth Street Mall, including the Symes and University Buildings at Champa Street.
Sid Levin was born April 11, 1927, in Kansas City, Kansas and spent his early years in Minneapolis. In 1945, he served in the U.S. Army, one of 35,000 American Jews to serve their country under arms during the war against Nazi Germany. After the war he enrolled in the University of Minnesota, graduating with a journalism degree.
In 2005, Levin himself became the subject of a major Denver news story when a giant dump truck jumped from a freeway overpass during construction of the T-REX project, crushing his car on the road below. The story was featured day after day in headlines and television news, as Levin fought back from severe injuries and the slimmest chances of survival. He recovered after nine weeks in Swedish Medical Center’s trauma unit, followed by months of rehabilitation.
Following his recuperation Levin returned to writing, authoring a 650-page novel The Rest Is Silence, about two brothers growing up in a poor Jewish neighborhood of Minneapolis, as the Second World War was gathering. The book, recently completed before his passing, remains unpublished.
Levin, who died Sunday following a respiratory infection, is survived by his wife of 64 years, Renae Dechter Levin; son Bradley A. Levin and his wife Patti Jo Robinson; daughter Beth and her husband Mark Samuelson, son Ted Levin and wife Jenifer Crolius Levin, daughter Laure Levin and her husband Gary Rand; Sid’s brother Irving Levin of Minneapolis, and by nine grandchildren. Services were held Jan. 19 at the Hebrew Educational Alliance, followed by interment at Emanuel Cemetery at Fairmount.
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