Leo Tyson Dirr, Weber State University Alumnus and former Signpost reporter, passed away on Sept. 10.
“Leo was a brilliant writer and a good friend, and he will be deeply missed,” said Angie Welling, editor-in-chief of The Signpost 1999-2000.
Dirr was a Campus/Student Affairs desk reporter and then editor in the late 90’s to the early 2000’s. Student Affairs is no longer a desk at The Signpost, but it was described by Preston Truman, a former colleague of Dirr’s, as a mix of general news and politics.
Specifically, Dirr loved to focus on campus politics such as the Student Senate. Welling added to this, “As campus affairs editor, Leo covered things like student elections and the WSU administration.”
Dirr went on to be recognized nationally for his writing abilities while pursuing his Communications Journalism Degree. In 2000, Dirr won a first place in the nation for general news reporting, according to WSU’s Journalism page.
Dirr was also prolific in the field of journalism locally. Throughout his life, he worked as a copy editor at the Salt Lake Tribune and as a reporter for The Standard-Examiner, the Salt Lake Deseret News and The Spectrum.
“He was an incredible writer with a witty bite and a mind for pushing people’s buttons,” said Lisa Roskelley, a close friend of Dirr’s. She says his talent for writing was only matched by his ability to read into a situation and ask great questions.
Dirr had recently published a book titled “Burn Down Jonestown,” under the pseudonym Burgmeister B. Duckworthy. Roskelley described the book as a loose autobiography “outlining the importance of stories in life — stories we tell ourselves and others.” Roskelley praised Dirr’s unmatched talent for storytelling, and his way of helping people “understand depths beyond what they knew before.”
Roskelley provided two quotations from his book:
“I uprooted the debilitating lies that held me back and replaced them with empowering stories that served my mission and purpose: I’m here to learn and help others learn.”
“Neuroscience matters to me because my brain betrays me daily … grit and generosity shall set you free, but you’re not born with either. You get to choose how much you want to develop them.”
Although Truman hasn’t seen or spoken to Dirr in close to ten years, he distinctly remembered that Dirr had “the most contagious laugh,” and was “always wearing his baseball cap.” Truman also praised Dirr’s ability to come up with story ideas that no one else would think of, ever.
Common in memories of Dirr was his personality.
“His personality was larger than life, and it shone through in his writing,” Welling said.
Dirr’s latest undertaking, an organization called “The Generosity Engine” Initiative, wasn’t a shock to anyone that knew him. Dirr acted as “Chief of Kindness” for the organization, which has the goal of “helping people build and nurture strategic relationships by developing a habit of generosity,” according to its mission statement on LinkedIn.
Welling commented on the organization, “Like all of his ideas, this one was intended to make peoples lives better simply by acknowledging the positive impact of others.”
She even noted that Dirr had hand-written an eloquent and inspiring letter to her, that she kept and often read to herself in times of need.
“Now, I will do it in his honor,” she said.
Roskelley is currently working to create a memorial and scholarship fundraiser for a WSU scholarship in his honor.