DU students mourn loss of beloved campus celebrity, Yakov Neyman

The crosswalk at Asbury Avenue seems an empty place these days. Yakov Neyman, the cheerful and friendly hotdog vendor who dedicatedly served nearly a decade of DU Pioneers passed away in October 2012.

News of his passing reached the DU community in January 2013. The student body responded with an outpouring of sentiment and gratitude for the man who had become a loveable fixture on campus. Students reflected on their best memories of Yakov, and what he meant to the DU community.

“He fed all the hungry students. His hotdogs were top of the line,” said Paul Phillips, a senior who was one of Yakov’s regular customers. “They were great! We loved it. We loved his presence around the campus”.

The best dogs

Yakov and his ever present smile never ceased to light up the DU campus.
Yakov and his ever present smile never ceased to light up the DU campus.

Yakov was dedicated to his customers. He could be found selling hotdogs to hungry students rain or shine, sometimes working thirteen-hour days. His efforts were rewarded with people lining up to buy one of his gourmet hot dogs.

“He had these big bratwursts,” said Junior Garrett Milliken, “those were definitely the best”.

Yakov’s hot dog stand was well known for its variety of interesting toppings on offer.

“I asked for his opinion,” said Sophomore Sonia Crosby-Attipoe “to put something on there that I normally wouldn’t have”.

More adventurous eaters could enjoy less traditional ‘dogs.

“I had an elk dog one time, and it was unreal,” said Phillips.

The high quality of his fare kept students coming back to Yakov’s stand, despite the variety of dining options near campus.

“He always had the best hot dogs. There was the other guy farther down, but he wasn’t nearly as good, and Yakov was very nice and helpful,” said Milliken.

More than the hot dogs he sold, students remember Yakov’s kind and open personality.

In our memories

Even students who never bought a hot dog have fond memories of Yakov’s bright smiles on their way to and from class.

“I got to see him in passing every day, just smiling, and asking how his day was going,” said Crosby-Attipoe.

Some students, like Milliken, recall his generous spirit.

“Once he dropped my hotdog, and he gave me another one for free. That was pretty cool”.

Yakov serves up one of his famous hotdogs at a DU sporting event.

Students remember his presence at student events, like Phillips and his friend, Sophomore Wade Bennett

“He’d go to the lacrosse end of the year party and serve hot dogs. It was really fun. He was a good guy”.

Thank you, Yakov

Not every hot dog vendor leaves a lasting impression on the people he serves. But not every hot dog vendor was Yakov.

“A lot of people don’t really know that he was more than just the hot dog guy that stood on the corner,” said Amir Alsayegh, a Junior who got to know Yakov quite well during his three years at DU.

“He had a PHD in Engineering. I mean, he was a brilliant guy! He was a part of this community. He was someone that offered advice to students. He was more a mentor, a councilor than he was anything else. And I think that’s really what meant a lot to the students, and what we’re going to miss the most”.

Alsayegh is leading an initiative to place a permanent memorial on Asbury near the spot where Yakov used to work and interact with students. Anyone wishing to contribute to the project is asked to contact Alsayegh at amir.alsayegh@hotmail.com.

Further reading on Yakov Neyman

DU fixture gives more than just hot dogs

Memorial begins for Yakov

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