Aspen shop owner dies of heart attack |

Aspen shop owner dies of heart attack

ASPEN ” Jim Oliver, the longtime owner of the Mailboxes Etc. in Aspen, died Feb. 2, 2008, of an apparent heart attack. He was 60 years old.

According to authorities, Oliver went out to move a vehicle parked in the lot outside the Mill Street Station shopping plaza, where Mailboxes Etc. is located, in preparation for leaving town on a family medical emergency.

Oliver reportedly was in the parking lot shoveling and brushing away accumulations of snow when the heart attack occurred.

He was found by David Ringer, an employee of the Take 2 Video Store, located in the same shopping plaza. Ringer said another worker in the shopping plaza remarked that she had not seen Oliver in his shop since before 9 a.m., which was not normal.

Ringer said that after checking the store and Oliver’s apartment, upstairs in the shopping plaza, he went out to the car and found Oliver lying on the pavement with the car idling next to him.

According to Ringer, “He hadn’t moved that car all winter. It was an igloo, an absolute igloo.”

He said he tried to revive Oliver but could not and that rescue personnel also tried to resuscitate him but failed.

Mailboxes Etc. employee Diane Amsden said a relative was expected to arrive Monday or Tuesday to take over funeral and other arrangements.

According to a 2002 story about Oliver and his locally famous succession of Saint Bernards, published in The Aspen Times, he grew up in Vancouver, Wash., and stayed there until his early 20s. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and after a couple of years of active duty became a special forces member while living in Oregon for the next 10 years.

For about five of those years, Oliver reportedly raced motorcycles professionally, riding his bike on the weekend and making enough money to pay for his motorcycle equipment. From Oregon, Oliver reportedly moved to Louisiana, where he became a professional diver ” welding steel underwater for oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

He and two friends later began a steel welding and fabrication business together based on his underwater experiences until Oliver moved to Philadelphia, where he ran a business importing furniture from England.

He then moved to Houston and worked as a business consultant while he searched for a business to purchase in Aspen. At first trying to land a deal with a local restaurant, Oliver jumped at the chance to buy the local branch of Mailboxes Etc., where he remained for the past 15 years or so.

Ray Adams of Aspen, a local composer who has made extensive use of the Mailboxes Etc. services over the past couple of decades, said of Oliver, “There was never a time when Jim wasn’t there for me.”

In preparing his composition for performances by the Aspen Choral Society and orchestra, Adams often would run up against deadlines and need hundreds of pages of scores copied, bound and covered. Oliver not only would help with the work, he would do it at a discount, Adams said.

“He bailed me out, he saved me, he had an interesting life, and he was a very, very loving man,” Adams said. “He was a great guy. I don’t know what I’m going to do without him, both as a professional and as somebody to talk to.”

There was no information available as to memorial or other services. His popular Saint Bernard, Waldo, reportedly has been placed temporarily in the care of an employee of a neighboring store.

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