Lew Cady – not interested in being normal

1937 – August 4, 2013

By Claire Martin

Ad man, beer lover Lew Cady, 76, “was not interested in being normal.” With his mountain man beard, magnetic gaze and outsize personality, Lew Cady operated at full tilt nearly all his life, pulling family and countless friends along in his wake. He died August 4 at age 76.

Lewis Carter Cady was 8-years-old when his family moved to Colorado, igniting eclectic interests. Among his most legendary projects was his journal of Firsts and Lasts, that began with himself (first child born to his parents, 1937), first shot at the Wynkoop Brew Pub’s pool hall (1992), first to drink everything on the Wynkoop tap (2001), first purchase of SPAM ($1 in 1985 at a Safeway on South Colorado Boulevard), first to check out a book from the Denver Public Library’s new flagship (1995), and one of the first four people to drink a beer in every open bar on Colfax on Aug. 11, 1994 .

Beer was important to Cady. He had a craft beer in 50 brew pubs in 50 states, ordered Coors at the National Western Stock Show’s Cowboy Bar, and was livid when the Cowboy Bar added cosmopolitans to the menu.

Cady was a celebrated creative marketing director in Colorado and, for a few years in the 1960s, in New York, a city that matched his relentless drive. Even there, Cady remained a mountain man. He once persuaded a half-dozen or so of his New York friends to fly to Denver, where everybody bought Levi’s and cowboy boots, and then drove to Central City, where Cady, in 1965, bought a house.

“Lew was not interested in being normal,” said his daughter, Jane Cady. “He was a collector of things. Beer cans. Songs about beer. Baseball trivia – not stats, but interesting, weird baseball trivia. “When he was in high school, he memorized pi to 100 places. He knew the square root of 2 to 50 digits. There’s Lew’s baseball side. There’s his beer side,” she said. “There’s the Central City side with Little Kingdom Come and all the weird crazy characters that populated that place for so much of his life. And there’s the Central City side, equally as eccentric, of the opera.”

Cady was such a fiercely loyal baseball fan – the Bears, the Zephyrs, and then the Colorado Rockies – that he deliberately sat within earshot of third base in order to heckle the opposing team. He used singular insults, including “That really furs my duck,” a phrase he doggedly tried to insinuate into the Colorado vernacular.

In speech and in print, meaning in the “beery news” that he wrote for the Little Kingdom Come newspaper that he founded in Central City, Cady referred to the mountains as “the pointylands,” another idiom that never made it into the popular lexicon.

For more than 40 years, the Little Kingdom Come was published “whenever we damn well feel like it.” Cady was working on an article shortly before he died. The LKC, as he called it, was a periodical less devoted to, say, county commissioners’ meetings than to the Gunslinger, a photo of a local resident, usually female wearing little more than a cowboy hat, an antique firearm, and an inviting smile.

Cady, who appeared in three Gunslinger photos himself, was as passionate about opera as he was about baseball. He loved being cast as an extra in Central City Opera’s productions, and was elated when indulgent directors gave him small speaking parts in “The Student Prince” and “Gabriel’s Daughter.”

Cady was a graduate of East High School in Denver and Brown University in Providence, R.I. He also earned a master’s degree from Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Survivors include his wife Leslie Cady of Denver; daughters Jane Cady of Belfast, Maine and Sue Cady of Fairfax, California; a brother, Steve Cady of Kingwood, Texas; and three grandchildren.

A celebration of his life will be held later in Central City.

Reprinted courtesy of Claire Martin and The Denver Post.

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