R. James "Jimmy" Townsend
June 8, 2011
Aspen has lost a little more of its messy vitality.
A local since 1983, it was one of Jimmy’s jobs to make sure that the “nuevo ubers” weren’t completely comfortable here. Eventually Aspen’s post-2000 crowd sent him into hiding. When asked if he was a vampire, for he seldom ventured into the day light, he said he was but the blood he needed was knowledge and collecting of memorabilia, poster art from Poland, Cuba, American movies, music history and Mars. It was a challenge to keep up mentally and physically with Jimmy in his prime. He was almost always the best at everything he tried.
He was a breath of controversial air, a firecracker in the night, a snake charmers’ snake charmer, cantankerously cantankerous. Jimmy was a chameleon able to blend in whereever or with whom ever he was with. Jimmy never a bragged about the things he accomplished.
His sons, Jimmy and John, never new he was a football and track star, until his high school year book turned up while going through his possessions. The grass was always greener on the side he was on; the side everyone else was trying to get to.
He was proud of his white/grey hair, which out numbered the brown in his early twenties. He liked to be anonymously different and was irresistible to bikers, pool shooters, blues musicians, off-beat artists and fallen angles who thought they could be like him if they could only clean up.
He once said that he wished he would live longer than Bob Dylan because the music on the radio that day would be all Dylan songs. He was the best bar fly that never was. One night while gazing at the stars in Telluride, talking about how we were not alone, he shouted to the stars “show me a sign.” Seconds latter a meteorite lit the sky from left to right.
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Jimmy is survived by his sons, Jimmy Townsend and John Townsend, and their wives and children of Minneapolis and by his companion of many years, Ronnie Roselle.
“It’s all right Ma, I’m only dying” – Bob Dylan.
He will be greatly missed.