A community cornerstone | AspenTimes.com

A community cornerstone

Dear Editor:As well-heeled folks scurried about for Aspen’s Comedy Fest last weekend, the back room in the Jerome Hotel filled to standing room only and no tickets were needed. Away from the glitz and stars, a crowd of young and old, predominantly longtime Aspenites, came out in droves to show their support for Dr. Harold Whitcomb. In reality, I didn’t know Dr. Whit very well. Although he was the only doctor I’ve ever had in my 35 years, I hardly ever heard him utter a word about his many achievements throughout the Aspen community – whether saving lives, building a hospital or cutting up dancefloors and running rivers throughout the West. He was too busy worrying about my small world and the hundreds of others he served. His corner office on Main Street was that safe place where anybody could come for their checkup, penicillin shot or a few stitches, and share any concern or fear about life. Whit would listen like a doting grandfather or best friend – depending on your age. “You just need some love, man,” I can still hearing him saying today. “But remember, kid,” he would remind me, “beer and coffee take you out, man.” Then he would adjust his glasses with a long middle finger, pushing them up the bridge of his nose, reach out and bury you in one of his signature hugs with arms that never ended. Regardless of the malady, you left feeling better. For our family, Whit was that ever-present force that you could call upon anytime. His name was like a mantra echoed throughout the house. Any accident, any problem, any concern – “Call Whit!” We called on Whit for the last 30-plus years. And as it was made evident in the outpouring of love from hundreds that attended his memorial service, we were not alone. Nearly everyone in the valley called on Whit. For the community, he was as much a healer as a doctor of love, compassion and spirit. He was a cornerstone in the Aspen community.While Aspen may be famous for its glitz and glam, what has made this valley unique are those like Whit. He was one of those selfless, ever-present citizens, who devote their hearts and souls to this valley. Whit’s memorial not only celebrated a remarkable man, but it served as a powerful reminder of the strength of this valley’s core – a devoted community that often goes unnoticed behind the gloss of Aspen’s chic. Roughly 15 years ago, I saw Whit and complained about some “less-than-friendly, self-important egos” I encountered on the streets. To my surprise, our good doctor advised me, “You need to thank those people! They teach you,” he explained, “exactly how you don’t want to be.” Today, Aspen should be grateful, not only for the time we were blessed with such a soul in the community, but also because Dr. Whit taught us exactly how we want to be. Peter McBrideBasalt

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