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Local historian, author Leland Feitz dies at 88

By: CAROL MCGRAW
February 12, 2013
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photo - Leland Feitz sits in his apartment living room decorated with paintings of Cripple Creek at the Cheyenne Place Retirement Center Thursday, November 1, 2012. Feitz was a longtime historian focusing on Southern Colorado.   Photo by MICHAEL CIAGLO/The Gazette file
Leland Feitz sits in his apartment living room decorated with paintings of Cripple Creek at the Cheyenne Place Retirement Center Thursday, November 1, 2012. Feitz was a longtime historian focusing on Southern Colorado. Photo by MICHAEL CIAGLO/The Gazette file 

Leland Feitz, historian and author of 27 books that chronicled the people and places of the Pikes Peak region, died Sunday in a local hospital at age 88.

“We have lost our storyteller. The stories won’t be coming anymore,” said Loyal Campbell, a long-time friend.

No subject was too large or small for Feitz to preserve. He gave equal time to outhouses and whorehouses, churches and gold mines, the famous and not so famous. He wrote about encounters with Duke Ellington, Lowell Thomas, Harry Truman and neighbors who warred over placement of a rhubarb plant.

Feitz was the historic voice of the Pikes Peak region for decades and worked in customer relations in the 1940s for one of the more famous employers in Colorado Springs, the Alexander Film Co., which created movies and TV ads.

He later got what he called his “dream job,” serving as director of the Cripple Creek District Museum for eight years. Born March 17, 1924, in La Jara, a south central Colorado farming community, Feitz milked cows as a kid, attended Colorado College and eventually spent several years in New York City writing advertising.

But he missed Colorado and returned to do what he loved most — preserving stories of characters now long gone and various historic communities such as Cripple Creek, Creed and Victor. He wrote the story of the Antlers Hotel and even a book on Colorado’s trolleys. In the 1960s, he started a publishing company, Little London Press, to publish his own works and those of others.

He and his wife, Evelyn (who died in 2004), traveled on precarious mountain roads in a motor home to find the stories to tell.

In an interview last year, Feitz said his books sold well because “they were short and didn’t cost a lot.” But they contained a wealth of information.

His most well-known book was “From 7 to 77: a Memoir of Sorts,” that he published in 2001.

Campbell says, “What really impressed me, Leland didn’t go to places like Cripple Creek to get away, but to find answers. He’d become friends with the old-timers and they would open up to him.”

Campbell said Feitz recently had been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. Many in the area are mourning his loss.

“We have lost a large part of our history by losing him,” said Sharon Swint, board president of the Old Colorado City Historical Society. “Many people used his books for research because they were well-written and accurate.”

The society last October honored Feitz for his work.

Swint said scores of people at the party had stories about how Feitz had been their mentor and father figure.

“He was more than a historian,” she said. “He was a good man, a loving and caring person.”

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