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Leo Goto

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Leo Goto Obituary
Legendary restaurateur, Leo K. Goto, died peacefully on March 3 of Stage IV liver cancer at Sacred Journey Hospice in McDonough, GA. Known especially for his charm, legions of friends and amazing memory, Leo was a fixture in the Denver restaurant scene. He was born in Sacramento, CA on June 2, 1936. Leo moved with his family to Ft. Lupton, CO during WW11, when Japanese were forced to relocate to interior areas of the country. Leo began working in the restaurant industry at Trader Vic's in Denver, starting as a dishwasher, while attending the University of Denver. He managed the restaurant in Denver and helped open other Trader Vic's restaurants in London, Houston and Portland from 1958 to 1968. In 1969, with partners Larry Atler and Howard Torgove, Leo opened his first restaurant, Leo's Place, located in downtown Denver. In 1976, before Leo's Place closed, Leo and his partners opened the Wellshire Inn. He was a past director of the Colorado Tourism Board and the Colorado Restaurant Association. He was a past chairman and president of the Colorado-Wyoming Chefs d'Cuisine Association. Leo was the youngest person to be inducted into the Colorado Restaurant Association's Hall of Fame. Leo earned his BS/BA in 1967 and his MBA in 1974 from the University of Denver. Leo served as a Trustee of the University of Denver from November, 1991 through June, 2012. He was the recipient of the University's Community Service Award in 1990 and, in 1995, the University of Denver Alumni Association gave Leo its highest honor, The Evans Award. He was past chairman of the Colorado State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 1996, Leo was appointed by President Bill Clinton as Chairman of The Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, for which he served two years. He also served as Chairman of The Denver Department of Environmental Health. Leo and his wife, Helen, were amazing volunteers and contributors at Children's Hospital after the death of their beloved five year old son, Mark, in an accident. In tribute to their contribution, Children's designated a special area as "Leo's Other Place." Leo is survived by his children Leilani (Kevin) Dobbins and Tim (Jennifer) Goto; his brothers Ben and Al, his sisters Lillian Sato and Rose Sakurai, and three grandchildren Morgan Dobbins, Melia and Mason Goto. Leo was preceded in death by his first wife, Helen, who died of cancer in 1988. Leo was also preceded in death by his brother, Mitsuru, who was killed in the Korean Conflict, and his former wife, Linda. A Requiem Eucharist will be offered Friday, 1 PM, St. John's Episcopal Cathedral, 1350 Washington St., Denver. Memorials suggested to Children's Hospital at www.childrenscolorado.org. To share memories and expressions of sympathy, visit www.horancares.com.
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Published in Denver Post on Mar. 10, 2013
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