Herb Kauvar, a driving force behind two iconic Boulder, Colorado businesses for more than three decades, died Oct. 24, 2020 at home. He was 93. "He just ran out of gas," says his son, Rick Kauvar. Herbert Sanders Kauvar was born May 17, 1927 in Altoona, Pa. to William and Bessie Silverstein, the youngest of three boys. Herb grew up in Geneva, Ohio, where he was a natural athlete, excelling in basketball, in particular. In 1944, he graduated from Geneva High School and requested permission from his parents to join the U.S. Navy at age 17. He was assigned to a destroyer as a signalman and was en route to Japan when the atomic bombs were dropped in August 1945. "He got shore leave to go into Tokyo, but he saw the state of the people, turned around and never set foot in Japan. It was too awful," says his son Jim Kauvar. Given an early discharge as part of the nation's post-World War II demobilization, Herb attended Ohio State University on the G.I. Bill, earning a degree in business. He went on to earn a Master's in Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh. He met Gilda Marks in 1948, and two years later, they were married. The newlyweds headed west to Denver to work in a newly formed business selling aluminum doors and custom furniture. Two years later he returned to Ashtabula Ohio to work for his father at the family shoe business in Geneva, until it was sold in 1959. The family moved to Boulder in 1960 when his father-in-law, Monroe Marks, and brother-in-law Floyd asked him to manage The Sink, a thriving 3.2-beer bar and grill adjacent the University of Colorado campus they had purchased in 1954. Herb, Gilda and their three children settled in a small rented house on 29th street in Martin Acres. With major assists along the way from his family and a series of talented and devoted student employees and managers, The Sink survived the '60s and '70s in various incarnations. During its heyday, The Sink sold more bottled 3.2 beer than anywhere else in the USA, and in 1968 Chuck Morris arrived on scene as manager and began experimenting with Friday Afternoon Club live-music events. "(Herb) changed my life. It was the heyday of The Sink," Morris, a Colorado Music Hall of Fame inductee, said in a 2019 interview. The Sink soon began hosting and promoting scheduled live music upstairs in the newly constructed Fawcet Room. "From 1968 to 1970, the Sink hosted events and local bands including Chris Daniels, Tommy Bolin and Zephyr, TK Little, and others," Morris said. "Downstairs, we only had one band, which was the second appearance of CU dropouts, Flash Cadillac and The Continental Kids. "But the mainstay was still the very customized jukebox of 45s, cold Coors beer and Sinkburgers," Rick says. In 1969, Morris and Herb teamed up to resurrect the once-popular, but by then shuttered, Tulagi. "The Tule," which sold more tap 3.2 Coors beer than anywhere in the country was soon hosting future superstars, from the Eagles to ZZ Top and Bonnie Raitt, making it one of the nations top music venues. Herb sold the Tulagi in 1973 and in 1974 he decided to remodel The Sink and rechristen it Herbie's Deli (the name of a sandwich shop he had opened above Tulagi). While his younger son Jim managed the restaurant, Herb branched out and started Commercial Business Brokers that specialized in selling businesses and business opportunities. As the deli business/ 3.2 beer industry declined in the late '80s, Rick and Jim decided to bring back the classic Sink, with updated wall caricatures and all inspired during a trip to Zihuatanejo, Mexico in 1989. The original characters on the walls of the Sink were painted in the '50s by Mike Dormer including the iconic Angel and Devil over the bar's entrance. Herb had made sure the original artwork was preserved under the barn wood paneling that was installed during the 1974 remodeling. "My brother had the vision to bring back the history and to put in a 21 (and over) bar," Jim says. "Dad had fought us over that idea for years." Herb ultimately, if not reluctantly, agreed to remodel and resurrect The Sink --concerned that nobody would remember it! Following the removal of the wood paneling, Llloyd Kavich returned to Boulder to restore his earlier creations. The updated Sink, now with a full bar, and opened that fall now managed and owned by Rick and Jim. After a few years of "robust" business, the brothers sold the restaurant in 1992, ending the family's involvement after nearly 40 years. "We were good caretakers of the Sink's history, and we passed on something that is appreciated by students and alumni today," Jim says. In the late '60s and early '70s Herb invested in several residential properties on University Hill, income from which supported him and Gilda for many years. Gilda died April 18, 1993. Herb remarried in 1995 to Eunice Perlman who died in 2018. Herb was one of the founders of the Boulder Jewish Fellowship, now known as Congregation Har HaShem, when it opened in 1965. "Do you know what Har HaShem means?" Herb said in a 2012 interview. "Mountain of God. That's what it means. And that's where... our burial place is." Herb was a huge fan of Ohio State and CU sports and inspired his sons' love of fishing. He also loved playing golf and continued enjoying the sport into his 90's. "He was a very good golfer. We buried him in his golf shoes and put his putter in the casket," Jim says. At Herb's request, the family made sure that Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" was playing when he was buried next to his wife Gilda at Green Mountain Cemetery. Herb is survived by his sons, Rick Kauvar of Niwot, and Jim Kauvar of Lafayette; a daughter, Gigi Buchanan and her husband Frank, of Mercer Island, Wash.; five grandchildren, Matthew Buchanan, Kendra Buchanan, Lindsay Kauvar Buchanan, Griffin Kauvar and Grant Kauvar; and one great-granddaughter. He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers; and his second wife, Eunice. The family plans to hold a memorial event "bringing in all the old Sink Rats" and assorted luminaries from the Colorado music scene, at a date to be determined when G Brown's Colorado Music Experience podcast will be debuted. Memorial contributions may be made to the Boulder County Humane Society at boulderhumane.org or The Colorado Golf Hall of Fame at 720-581-3390
Published by The Daily Camera on Nov. 29, 2020.