Herb Weisbard didn’t get cheated in life
September 6, 2013
Friends and family won't be at a loss for words Sunday when they gather at a memorial for Missouri Heights resident Herb Weisbard.
Weisbard, 80, died of natural causes Aug. 24 at Heritage Park Care Center in Carbondale. There will be a memorial service for him at Veltus Park in Glenwood Springs starting at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Weisbard is remembered as an adventurer who lived life to the fullest and occasionally stepped on toes while doing so.
"What I remember best about him was he was a real scamp," said Royal Laybourn, adding that it was a characteristic Weisbard embraced.
Weisbard grew up two blocks from the ocean in Rockaway Beach, N.Y., and had a lifelong love of water. He took a trip to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1972, fell in love with the area and relocated to the mountains six months later, said his son, Robert Weisbard, of Denver.
Herb Weisbard moved to Basalt in 1973 and moved to Carbondale in 1980. He met his future wife, Janet, a Brit who was in danger of having to leave the country, and they were married in 1986. Bill Stirling officiated over the Winterskol wedding at the Hotel Jerome, Janet Weisbard recalled, and they enjoyed fireworks and a parade on their big day.
Herb Weisbard was a carpenter who worked on many high-end homes on Red Mountain and elsewhere in the Aspen area, but he wasn't interested in getting rich.
"He didn't live high on the hog," Janet said.
The Weisbards built an earth-berm house in Missouri Heights that capitalized on solar orientation. Herb got involved in civic issues in the midvalley, typically advocating growth control and conservation.
He told a reporter in the late 1990s that he never could understand the "9-to-5ers" who came to the Roaring Fork Valley to make money rather than pursue outdoor adventures.
He did enjoy his toys. He had numerous boats over the years as well as jet skis, snow skis and snowmobiles. His passion was running rivers.
Laybourn said he met Weisbard in 1989 on a river trip and adopted him as his "adventurer grandfather." He said Weisbard lived life at full throttle and often was scarred by his adventures. He used at least nine lives — probably more like 15, Laybourn said.
Weisbard once suffered a massive heart attack while skiing at Snowmass but had the good fortune of having a cardiologist be the first skier behind him, according to Laybourn. He got pulled out of the Crystal River by EMTs who happened to be nearby when he overturned his boat in full spring runoff. And he and Janet luckily were found by an attentive acquaintance while they were lost and separated while snowmobiling on the Flat Tops while in their 70s.
"He would walk too close to the edge and fall over it," Laybourn said.
A lot of his contemporaries in Aspen during the 1970s and '80s played hard and partied harder, with little regard for their bodies.
"His biggest disappointment was he ran out of contemporaries that would play with him," Laybourn said.
Weisbard's lust for adventure didn't always ingratiate him with others. When sore legs limited his mobility, he delighted in riding his jet ski on Ruedi Reservoir, especially jumping boats' wakes. The practice eventually made him persona non grata among the boating crowd.
Robert Weisbard said his dad's philosophy in life matched his philosophy on skis: Point 'em downhill and go.
"He who makes the most turns is the loser," Robert said.
Lee, Herb's daughter, said her dad woke up each day and pondered how to have fun, and he wanted others to have fun with him. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, is a perfect time to reflect on how he looked at life, she said.
"The joke is no one thought he would die of natural causes," Lee said.
While sad about the death of his friend, Laybourn said he figures Weisbard knew his body had failed him and he was looking for something new.
"At the end, he was ready to climb into another adventure," Laybourn said.
Friends attending the memorial Sunday are urged to arrive via the Roaring Fork River.