Community remembers Scott Edmondson | AspenTimes.com

Community remembers Scott Edmondson

Joel Stonington

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

A semicircle of hundreds gathered around an open podium at the base of Buttermilk on Sunday to remember retired Aspen Middle School teacher Scott Edmondson.Edmondson, a founding force of the local outdoor education program, died in his sleep from cancer on Aug. 30. He was 59.For nearly three hours, people as varied as Edmondson’s doctor, wife, step-children, climbing partner, friends and students spoke of his charisma, caring and the many things they learned from him. It was representative of the wide effect he had in the community.

And though each person had a different relationship with Edmondson, they shared a respect for his compassion, love of nature, teaching, support of outdoor education and the grace with which he faced his disease in the latter years of his life.”He moved in with us and changed my kids’ lives forever,” said Edmondson’s wife, Lizzie Talenfeld, saying that he taught them to look someone in the eye when talking, about respect, community and to never quit. “He changed our lives in such a way that I can’t imagine where we’d be without him.”Talenfeld’s children, Haley and Jesse Hoffman, spoke of their step-father with deep respect. They were with him during his last hours and Haley mentioned the happiness they shared at being together.

“He taught me everything I know,” said Jesse, after playing a song on his guitar. “Every decision I make, I will think of him before I make it.”Former students told how Edmondson quickly became more than a teacher. There were recollections of fun dinner parties, jokes and how Edmondson would turn the volume of the music higher and higher. “All I remember from Scott’s class is Scott,” said Linden Mallory, a student from the most recent class Edmondson taught. “It wasn’t long before I began to consider Scott more as a friend of mine than as a teacher.”

The students spoke of how he was as a teacher in the classroom and in the outdoors, helping them gain footing and explore new terrain with a sense of freedom. At the end of the service, just before “Happy Trails” came across the loud speakers, friend Boots Ferguson concluded: “May we all care for our community and our friends as Scott did for us.” Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com