Lew Carpenter, Eclectic Character Who Brought Lenin Statue Here

When Issaquah entrepreneur Lew Carpenter brought home his souvenir from Slovakia last year, he helped settle perhaps the heaviest and most famous Communist ever to grace American soil.

Standing 16 feet tall and weighing 7 tons, the bronze likeness of Nikolai Lenin found a new home in Mr. Carpenter's back yard.

Quite the trophy for a man who once told Seattle Times columnist Emmett Watson that he'd dealt in everything from used cars to fly swatters, church supplies to contraceptives, sex films to revivals.

Mr. Carpenter, 45, who died Feb. 18 in a two-car accident on Stevens Pass, was a character who carried business cards billing himself as "Mercenary - Playboy - Soldier of Fortune - Casual Hero - Philanthropist."

His eclectic credentials also included teaching at Bellevue Community College and instructing students at the City University of Poprad, Slovakia, in business and conversational English.

It was during a visit to Poprad as the city was tearing down the Communist structure that Mr. Carpenter came across the statue of Lenin. It cost Mr. Carpenter $13,000 to buy the statue from the city, which had been planning to melt it down and use the bronze for park benches.

But that wasn't the only obstacle to importing the mammoth statue. By the time Lenin took his perch in Mr. Carpenter's back yard, the statue had cost him an additional $27,000 to ship over in three segments.

It has not been put together since being shipped here, and the family has not decided what to do with the statue.