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The Color Green

Long before Leonardo DiCaprio and his “The 11th Hour” fellow filmakers and even before Al Gore wrote/filmed his “Inconvenient Truth,” and even before Ed Begley Jr. drove to-and-from everywhere in his energy-saving cars and lived in his energy-saving house, there was Dennis Weaver who lived and practiced the Green life. On August 25, Dennis’ widow Gerry, in memory of her late husband (they were married for 63 years when he died Feb.26, 2006), will donate, on behalf of the Weaver family, a 60-acre park in the town of Ridgway, Colorado. In addition to offering world-class flyfishing and hiking and bicycling trails, the remaining acreage will become a conservation-oriented low density “Green” housing development called RiverSage. The Weavers built a 9760 square-foot home on a base of 3000 tires–and inaugurated the program copied nationwide, removing from the landscape, millions of the fire polluting tires. With Dennis now gone, Gerry has their house up for sale via Sotheby’s for $3 million-plus. The family still has 116 scenic, undeveloped acres which will become part of the Dennis Weaver Memorial Park.

Weaver was passionate about eagles, which came every winter to nest above the Uncompahgre River, which runs through his land. A huge (2,800-pound) bronze American Bald eagle with wing-span of 21 feet, will be unveiled at the park’s dedication. A plaque will bear Dennis’ inspiring “Eagle Poem,” Vic Payne created the sculpture and Bill Widger donated it.

Dennis Weaver, while best remembered for his role as Chester Goode in “Gunsmoke” and his character “McCloud,” also had an enviable record in films and stage as well. And he also starred in the 1971 film “Duel,” which launched Steven Spielberg on his career. Weaver, An Actors’ Studio student he starred in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and  “Come Back Little Sheba.”  He combined his environmental love with his business sense in the creation of “Ecolonomics,” a combination of the theories of ecology and economics. He talked its importance coast-to-coast, even in the halls of Washington, D.C., having driven around-and-across the country in ethanol-friendly cars. He was one of the first to be seen in a Prius–his family boasted three of them. Wife Gerry would also like to furthur the memory of the multi-talented Dennis with a Ridgway museum filled with Weaver’s memorabilia–pictures of the strong and not-so-silent actor and activist.

(The Public is invited to the dedication of the Dennis Weaver Park, 5 p.m. Aug. 25. It is located on U.S.550, 1.8 miles north of Ridgway, in the shadows of the San Juan Rocky Mountain Range.)

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