Bernard Warren Jurick
July 20, 2010
Bernard Warren Jurick (known as Bunny in his early years, then later as Bernie) was born on Sept. 17, 1931 in a small but tidy, dirt-floor cabin on his grandparent’s ranch (Ivan and Theresa Jurick) in Snowmass, Colo. His young mother, Fern Simkins Jurick, gave birth all alone, with no assistance, because his father, Tony Jurick, couldn’t get back in time with the midwife. Two years later, when his sister Maxine was born, they made sure they were at the midwife’s house (Lucille and John Jurick) in Aspen!
Bunny and Maxine rode together on their horse Brownie to the Capitol Creek Schoolhouse, from the family ranch, which later became part of the Windstar Conservancy, until attending Basalt Union High School, where he graduated in 1949.
His parents sold the ranch in 1948, and moved with his sister to San Quentin Village, Calif., to run the general store there, but Bunny stayed in Basalt to finish high school. He lived in the attic room of his cousin’s store at the confluence of Snowmass Creek and the Roaring Fork River, where the “Old” Snowmass Conoco is still located today. He said he “nearly froze to death” that winter, but Agnes and John McLaren fed him well and made sure he made it to all his basketball games, ski races and dances!
He was awarded a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star medal for heroism while fighting with the 1st Cavalry Division’s 8th Regiment near Togun-Gol, Korea, also known as “Heartbreak Ridge.” His citation reads: “While participating in the attack, Jurick noticed that several men had been wounded. Private Jurick left his position of comparative safety to assist them. While engaged in evacuating the men, he was wounded in both feet by shell fragments. Despite the pain, he continued his self-assigned mission until all the wounded had been carried from the dangerous area. Private Jurick’s heroism reflects great credit on himself and the military service.”
After partially recovering from his injuries, he attended The College of Marin (in California), where he studied art and architecture. He met and married the late Sarah Harris (d. 3/2/2009) and returned to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1958, where they raised four children.
With his strong work ethic, and despite his war injuries, he built houses in the summer, worked at Sabatini’s Ski Shop in winter as well as for the Aspen Skiing Co. as a lift operator on Aspen Mountain, and at Snowmass Ski Area. He worked for the Aspen School District for a few years before becoming a rural postal carrier for the Snowmass Post Office. He delivered mail on Snowmass Creek, Capitol Creek and in the Snowmass Canyon portion of the Roaring Fork Valley until his retirement in 1997.
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At his best when he was in the wild, he hunted, fished, skied and snowmobiled, hiked and rode horseback to high mountain lakes. He loved to dance and listen to music, read and grow vegetables.
He lived alone for many years on Navajo Street in Sopris Village, El Jebel, among wonderful, loving neighbors before moving to Rifle in late 2007. He was treated with great kindness and respect, while receiving extraordinary care at the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home, where he died on July 10, 2010, attended by family members.
He is survived by his children and their spouses: Katie and Timothy Gotsick of Acworth, Ga.; Emily Jurick and Michael Moran of Carbondale, Colo.; Maggie and Bill Mehr of Newburgh, N.Y.; Adam Jurick and Gerry Wold of Bozeman, Mont.; his grandchildren, Hayes and Echo Gotsick; Shannon Moran; Sarah, Grace, Jonathan and Stephen Mehr; Annie Wold-Jurick and Joey Spanne. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews, Cindy Squires of Scapoose, Ore., Janet Nelson of Grand Junction, Colo., and Harold Nelson of Idaho.
Cremation has taken place and a celebration of his life will be held at the Windstar Foundation on Snowmass Creek Road on Aug. 14 at 2 p.m.