February 19, 2013

Friend, historian Leland Feitz passed away.

Leland Feitz sits in his apartment living room decorated
with paintings of Cripple Creek at the Cheyenne Place
Retirement Center. November 1, 2012. 

(Photo by Michael Ciaglo/The Gazette file)

I lost a longtime friend on February 10, 2013. Leland Feitz was a longtime historian focusing on Southern Colorado. My father and I cherished his books on Creede and Soapy Smith. In 1985 I traveled to Colorado and had the great pleasure of meeting Leland. He was a great historian. I am grateful and honored to have been among those he called friend.

To Mr. Jeff Smith:

I’m sorry to tell you of the death of our friend Leland Feitz, the evening of Sunday Feb. 10, here in the Springs. Am enclosing below the link to the Colorado Springs Gazette article of February 13, outlining some of his life and legacy. Leland would have been 89 next month, on St. Patrick’s Day.

I discovered correspondence from 1985 in his papers yesterday and learned of your friendship. This morning I found your website.

Leland had been diagnosed Saturday evening in the ER with pneumonia. This came after a day of difficulty breathing, at Cheyenne Place Retirement Home, where he had been living for the last eight months. When we arrived at the ER, Leland was actually doing pretty well and was in good spirits while various tests were being done.

We stayed with him there for about 3 hours, wanting to be with him until he was admitted to a room in the hospital (Penrose Main), and got into bed. He was able to walk into the room by himself.

When I saw him again Sunday morning, he was tired from “not much sleep” as is usual in a busy hospital. I left him after an hour or so, and he seemed fine, smiling and talking, in good humor. The doctor agreed that he should stay another day, to get up and around so they could see if he was okay to go home maybe the next day. When I left, I fully expected to see him again Monday. But it was not to be. He died peacefully in no pain that Sunday evening, shortly after 7 P.M.

Leland left specific instructions for cremation, to be placed next to his wife Evelyn at Memorial Gardens, and for no funeral or memorial services.

Again, I am just writing to share in the loss of a friend, a wonderful gentleman and writer of The West.

We have wonderful memories -- and I’m grateful for that.

Loyal Campbell

Jeff Smith and Leland Feitz in his office 1985

Dear, Loyal.

Thank you so very much for letting me know of Leland's passing. My sincere condolences to you and the family.

I prize his books on Soapy and Creede. Soapy Smith's Creede and A Quick History of Creede are listed proudly in the reference works of my own book Alias Soapy Smith. My father was the one who introduced them to me and they greatly influenced the way I approach and write about history. In 1985 I planned a two week trip to Colorado for research. Many of the towns were one day stops but when I found out Leland was in Cripple Creek I booked a hotel and stayed a few days so I could spend some time with him. He took me to where Gillette once stood, and even hiked up the hills to find the spots where the photographers took their pictures in the 1890s. I now have some great then and now photographs that I have shown many times since.

I attached a few photographs I thought you might enjoy seeing. On my 1985 trip I brought the copies of his books to sign. The first picture is him at his desk in the Cripple Creek museum. I'm standing over him watching him sign the books. I'm so glad I had the picture taken. The other picture is one of the "then and now" photos I made from one of the pictures I took during Leland's tour of Gillette. That was a wonderful time and Leland Feitz was a wonderful historian.

Leland Feitz
March 1, 2012

Leland Feitz: page 10.

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

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