Gary Dvorak stands outside the former Legion building as he began building the Cafe de Klos in 2011.

The man who turned a burned-out shell of a landmark into a beautiful downtown Vinton building has died.

Gary Dvorak, who bought the remains of the Vinton Post 57 Legion Hall and turned it into his second Cafe de Klos restaurant, died on Dec. 17, after a long battle with cancer.

Six years after the 2005 fire destroyed the American Legion, leaving the empty shell behind the facade, Gary and his wife Joan bought the space and announced their plans to open a new Cafe de Klos. He had run a restaurant with the same name for 25 years in Cedar Rapids, but had sold that business so he and Joan could follow the college baseball career of their son.

I watched as Gary worked on the building, and as Brian Parr’s handiwork took shape on the ceiling, and other areas. I walked with Gary through the building as he described what he hoped it would become. Later he told me that it had turned out even better than he had originally dreamed. There was a room with a baseball theme, and another one with an outdoor New Orleans vibe. Parr painted the ceiling with a sky and bird theme.

But shortly after the business opened, Gary received his cancer diagnosis. After battling the disease for nearly two years, he made the difficult decision to close and sell the building in 2015.

Now, the building has been transformed into a church and community center owned by the Revolution Church.

Funeral services for Gary will take place at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 27, at St. Mary’s Church in Vinton. See his obituary HERE.

See previous stories about the building and Dvorak’s restoration project HERE and HERE and  HERE. See a story about the business opening HERE.