Leach remembered for what he gave to others

Naomi Havlen

When Aspen resident Tim Leach died this weekend, he left behind a legion of fans.

Leach, 27, is remembered by family and friends as a generous soul who knew early on what his purpose in life was, and who tried to help others find their own paths.

An avid sportsman, Leach was skiing at Snowmass Ski Area on Friday afternoon when he collided with a group of trees; he was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Leach was airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction where he died the following day.

“Everyone he came into contact with he touched, and he cared about,” said his wife, Amy. “He wanted to get to know people, and he loved being around people. It’s so hard to explain how exceptional he was.”

Leach worked as a counselor at the Aspen Counseling Center, and also had a private practice in Aspen with his stepmother, Clare Leach. Counseling was something he knew he wanted to do at a very young age, Clare said.

“When he was 12 he said, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to be a therapist just like you,'” Clare said. “Tim had a calling – a gift. He knew it was his work, and that makes a gifted therapist.”

Timothy Brooks Leach was born in Charlottesville, Va., received his bachelor’s degree from University of Virginia in 1998 and his master’s in social work from Virginia Commonwealth in 2002.

He met Amy during grad school, and they married in May 2001 on Grand Cayman Island. They moved to Aspen in August 2002.

Amy teaches preschool at Wildwood School in Aspen. Together, the couple volunteered for The Buddy Program and Jazz Aspen Snowmass.

Tim Leach also played in recreational soccer and basketball leagues, and loved skiing and scuba diving.

Aspen Police officer Terry Leitch met Leach while playing recreational soccer. The Leach/Leitch combo were on the “Free Agents” for two seasons.

“We’d split up playing defense or being goalie,” Leitch said. “We joked that there was always a T. Leitch or T. Leach on the goal. He was a great guy to be a friend with.”

Leitch also saw Leach on the job, since as a counselor for the Aspen Counseling Center Leach was often on-call to help people who had just experienced personal traumas, like the death of a family member. Leitch said his friend was extremely calm and consoling during even the most difficult of circumstances.

“It’s a real loss for our community – people like him are among the unsung heroes of our community,” said Jeff Kremer, director of the Aspen Counseling Center. “[Counseling] is a private, confidential, subtle work, and he was a person with a lot of integrity.”

On Friday, Leach had skied with friends and left them to ski down and get his pager when the accident occurred. He was on-call for the counseling center at 5 p.m.

Although it is undetermined how the accident occurred, his family emphasized that he was an expert skier who wouldn’t lose control unless he hit a patch of ice. His family theorizes the accident may have been caused by the spring snow conditions.

“He was the most in-control skier, and he was always so responsive to anything thrown his way while skiing,” said Leach’s brother, Brian.

The family agreed that on the ski slopes and in life, Leach put the lives of others on par with his own.

“One of his clients told me that Tim changed her life,” Amy said. “But if she had said that to him, he would have said, ‘No honey, you changed your life, not me.’ He would never take that kind of credit for himself.”

Tim Leach is survived by his wife Amy; his brother Brian and sister-in-law Betsy; his parents William and Clare Leach, and Virginia and John Fogelgren, of Afton, Va.; grandmothers Margaret Leach and Clare Webb; and grandparents Stanley and Margaret Kenward.

Donations can be sent to the Aspen Counseling Center, 0405 Castle Creek Road, Suite 9, Aspen, Colo., 81611. A celebration of Tim Leach’s life is planned for mid-April.

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is