Christopher H. Smith |

Christopher H. Smith

Christopher H. Smith, 58, a longtime Aspenite, drowned in a boating accident in the Florida Keys on Monday, June 25, 2007. Chris, who grew up in the Chicago area, was the son of Diana Beuttas and George D. Smith. He attended the Stockbridge School in Massachusetts and moved to Aspen in the 1970s after graduating from Colorado College.

Chris was adventuresome and loved the outdoors. He enjoyed boating, skiing, horseback riding and farming. He was an independent, free-spirited, progressive thinker. In 1983, Chris and Steve Kinney started Aspen Earthmoving. Under his leadership, the company grew to more than 100 employees. Chris challenged his employees to be innovative and was always ready to help anyone in need, knowing that the company was really about people and not just moving dirt. Chris was a fair and generous employer.

Chris will be remembered for his environmental devotion and commitment to the Roaring Fork Valley communities. Some of the projects that reflect these values include the Independence Pass restoration, Hallam Lake restoration, Roaring Fork River habitat enhancement, bicycle path construction along the Rio Grande right of way, and the demonstration reconstruction of carriage paths in Acadia National Park.Chris created beautiful spaces like the Wilds in Basalt and his home on the Eriksen ranch. His latest dream was to develop energy-efficient buildings and a sustainable farm at his ranch, which was recently purchased in the Gunnison area. His family became involved in working on all these projects and are continuing to carry them out, the most recent being a remote, off-the-grid cabin on some mining claims on the backside of Aspen Mountain.

Chris was a remarkable father, a caring son and a loving husband. He will be deeply missed by his family. Survivors include his wife, Toni Zurcher, mother, Diana Beuttas, daughter, Colby, and sons, Colter and Bridger. He is also survived by his siblings, Deborah Hatch of Conway, N.H.; Eleanor Land of Ojai, Calif.; the Rev. George Smith III of Glen Ellen, Ill.; Thomas Smith of Atlanta; and Peggy Coffee of Winnetka, Ill.There are plans for a memorial service Sept. 16 in Aspen. In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to the Rocky Mountain Institute.