Jon Stuart died Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, after hitting a tree while skiing with friends on a bluebird powder day on Aspen Mountain, where he spent many an enjoyable day on skis. He was 56.
Known as “Stu” or “Stuart” to most, he was a longtime Aspen local who first worked at the Gant condominiums in the late 1970s as a “Gant man.” He went on to start and run his own successful painting company, Stuart Painting.
His time at the Gant shaped much of Stu’s life, providing him with a network of devoted friends, as well as a long-running gig painting the many buildings at the Gant — a seemingly never-ending job.
For about a decade in the 1980s, Stu lived in the “Blue House,” a blue Victorian at 500 West Francis in Aspen’s West End. One of his roommates was Stacey Schiller, who lived in the Blue House for five years before she and Stu began a romance. They were married in June 1995. Stacey and Stu had two children, Hallie, now 18 and Jeffrey or “Jes,” now 16. Both are students at Aspen High School.
The Stuart family bought a 57-foot sailboat, named it “Lightfoot” and sailed it together from Florida to the South Pacific from 2008 to 2010, realizing one of Stu’s lifetime goals.
“Captain Stu” was widely admired by friends for his congenial leadership style and wide-ranging abilities, including his talent for smoothing out complicated or stressful situations, often with just a word and a warm smile.
Stu always appeared calm, knowledgeable and levelheaded, and whether it was grilling chicken for 200 at the Gant conference center, docking a houseboat in high winds on Lake Powell, or navigating shallow coral reefs in Polynesia, he just seemed to know how to get the job done.
His ready sense of humor, his peaceful nature and his joy for life were apparent to all he encountered, and Stu seemed to get younger as he got older, a wonderful trait for being a father to two teenagers. He knew how to have fun and include others in the process.
Stu was also a passionate and talented cook and worked as a private chef for several fortunate families in the Aspen area. One of his favorite pastimes was playing online poker, as he always had a keen sense of both odds and money. He was also game for helping his wife Stacey train for running marathons.
He was an active member of Elks Lodge #224 in Aspen, where he enjoyed volunteering, and yes, hanging out in the bar talking with friends.
Jonathan Robert Stuart was born in St. Louis, Missouri, Feb. 8, 1957. He graduated from high school in Richardson, Texas, and attended the University of Texas in Austin.
He is survived by his wife, Stacey, his daughter Hallie, his son Jeffrey, his sister Andrea Stuart Lacey of McCallen, Texas, and his mother Elizabeth Stuart of Cape Coral, Florida. His brother Jeffrey Stuart, and his father, Robert Stuart, preceded him in death.
A memorial event for close friends and family is planned for Saturday afternoon.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Stuart Children Education Fund at U.S. Bank.
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