by Paul Kashmann
The Bonnie Brae neighborhood said
goodbye to two stalwarts of the local business community when Gene Wilson,
owner of Bonnie Brae Conoco (724 S. University Blvd.) and his nearby neighbor
Hank Dire, co-owner of Bonnie Brae Tavern (740 S. University Blvd.), passed
away last month.
A Denver native, Wilson, 69, attended South
High for three years before graduating from Thomas Jefferson. He took over as
owner of the familiar service station on the corner of S. University and Bonnie
Brae Blvd. in 1969. His father, Ken, leased the facility – built in 1938
– in 1942, and was a familiar presence until 1968 when he turn the reins
over to his son.
Gene’s brother Rob Wilson told The
Profile, “Gene started working at the station when he was 12. We all grew
up around here. Except for a few years’ service in the army, he never left.”
Known for its friendly care to patrons,
Bonnie Brae Conoco was voted “Best Place To Go To Repair A Flat Tire” by Westword in 2011.
Current plans call for that commitment to
friendly, quality service to carry on in the able hands of Gene’s wife, Lynn,
son Ken and brother Rob. Gene Wilson is also survived by two
other children, Kristie and Kelly; two grandchildren, Julia and Jacob; and his
loyal canine companion, Aussie.
A stone’s throw down the block from Bonnie
Brae Conoco, Bonnie Brae Tavern has stood as a landmark
gathering place since 1934 when Carl and Sue Dire first opened for
Henry John “Hank” Dire, who passed away June
4 at age 84, was a toddler when the tavern doors swung open for the first time,
and in the ensuing nearly eight decades, with the exception of a couple of years
in the service during the Korean War, he never wandered far from what would
truly become his second home.
A graduate of South High School and
University of Denver, Dire took over as co-owner with his brother Mike
following his mother’s death. He helped nurture the family tradition that now
includes his and Mike’s children and grandchildren on the Tavern staff.
nature endeared him to the Tavern’s loyal clientele. His son, Rick, told The
Profile, “I started working here when I was 13 because I missed my dad, and
he was always here. He touched so many people. He was great at remembering
names. But even if he couldn’t recall who you were, he never forgot your face.
He’d always ask, ‘Where have you been? How are you doing? How’s the family?”
In addition to brother Mike, Hank Dire is survived by his wife of 57 years, Joyce; a son, Rick;
a daughter, Angela; and two grandchildren, Henry and Julia.
The South Pearl Street community lost an
important presence when realtor, Denver Planning Board member and community
activist Rich Delanoy died on May 18.
Delanoy, 65, was
born in Kingston, NY. Raised in a military family – his father was an Air
Force colonel – Delanoy lived in many different
places as he grew up, but found a home in Colorado Springs, where he attended
high school. He went on to attend Colorado State University where he met his
wife-to-be, Marion Edmunds. They were married at El Rancho in 1977.
A respected local realtor working in the
Platt Park area, Delanoy was involved in many community
organizations and had served on the Denver Planning Board for several years
before resigning due to his illness. He was a strong proponent of well designed neighborhoods and was heavily involved in the
rezoning of the Gates Rubber Co. properties.
Delanoy is survived by his children, Ben (wife Nami),
Kenny, Molly and Casey; his sisters Chirsann Winiecke (husband David) and Patricia Byron (husband
(See Fred Hammer’s memories of Rich Delanoy in Letters to the Editor, page 31.)