2008 Newsmakers – R.I.P. Wallace Westfeldt, Lathrop Strang, J.E. DeVilbiss, Bryan Sax, Cory Brettmann | AspenTimes.com

2008 Newsmakers – R.I.P. Wallace Westfeldt, Lathrop Strang, J.E. DeVilbiss, Bryan Sax, Cory Brettmann

Lathrop Strang

ASPEN ” Every community on earth knows about death. Every year in every town in every country, loved ones die and leave their friends and relatives to wonder why and sometimes how.

Aspen is no different in this respect, but somehow this year seemed to serve up more death, or at least more unexpected deaths. As our staff looked back on 2008, it was impossible not to remember all the locals who died too soon and left people throughout the valley stunned, and wordlessly shaking their heads.

Even Aspen City Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss, who at 73 had certainly lived a long and fruitful life, was still serving the community and devoting his heart and mind to public service right up until his last days.

The others listed here all died in tragic accidents ” Bryan Sax, 37, in a mid-air plane crash, and 22-year-old Wallace Westfeldt, 46-year-old Lathrop Strang and 52-year-old Cory Brettmann in skiing and snowboarding accidents ” that left their family and friends reeling with grief. Hundreds of community members turned out for memorial services, both to mourn those who died and to comfort the stricken families. Westfeldt was young, a mere college student; the others were husbands and fathers, in the midst of their richest years.

There are no words to explain these deaths or reduce the pain, but there’s also no denying they were a major part of 2008.

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