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Wayne Jakino
(April 15, 1942 - July 16, 2008) U.S.A.

Wayne Jakino

Founder International Gay Rodeo


Born in Durango, Colorado, Wayne grew up on his family's ranch there, wrangling cattle and heaving hay bales. After high school, he came to Denver at age 19, studied design and started up an interior design company, Jake Limited. In 1981, he and partner John King opened the first Charlie's at 7900 E. Colfax Ave. Eight years later they moved into the old Emerson Street East space in Capitol Hill and thrived.

Through the years, Wayne raised more than $2 million for local charities and political campaigns. He was a factor in the elections of then- Denver District Attonry Bill Ritter (now Governor Ritter) and current D.A. Mitch Morrissey.

In the 1990s, Wayne taught gay sensitivity classes to Denver police officers, then led by Chief Dave Michaud, and when controversial Amendment 2, which proposed rollbacks on gay civil rights, came before the state legislature, he advised then-Mayor Wellington Webb and then-Gov. Roy Romer to stand with the Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender community in opposition to it.

In 1981 he helped found the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association, then the international version. When his own days as a horseman were over, he became one of gay rodeo's most popular announcers.

Charlie's - which general manager John Nelms calls "Wayne's baby," has over the years opened branches in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Chicago.

Wayne met Dan Bray, a transplant from Potomac, Md., in 1999. On Dec. 23, 2003, they performed their own wedding ceremony - just the two of them, a bottle of champagne and a gold ring - in the house they shared on Emerson Street.

Wayne died at his Capitol Hill home, after a 14-month battle with pancreatic cancer, in the company of his sister and his life partner, Dan Bray. He was 66.

"Given all the things Wayne was doing in the community, and the way he made everyone feel, he was there for them," Dan said, "I wondered at first if he could have anything left - if he could be available emotionally for me. But he always was. As wonderful as he was in public, he was even more wonderful at home."


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