Obituary: Gregory DuBois Erwin
November 6, 1940 – March 8, 2023
Aspen resident Gregory DuBois Erwin, beloved husband, father and grandfather, passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, on March 8th, 2023 at 11:11 AM in Sarasota, Florida. He was 82 years old.
Greg grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, where he graduated President of his Central High School class in 1958. He then went on to graduate near the bottom of his class at Grinnell College, but true to form as the “Comeback King”, rebounded to graduate first in his class at the University of Nebraska Law School in 1965.
Greg began his legal career at Dewey Ballantine in New York, and subsequently moved back to Omaha in 1974 to become the 9th partner, and first securities lawyer, at Kutak Rock. During his time there in 1981, Greg was credited with inventing the publicly traded Master Limited Partnership, an innovative financing vehicle that is widely used today. According to Jill Goldstein of Kutak Rock LLP, “Greg was instrumental in Kutak’s growth in the late 70s/early 80s. He was involved in creating brilliant complex financial structures that we still bring to bear on our deals today and our firm is beyond grateful for his legacy.”
In 1984, Greg co-founded America First Companies, a first-of-its-kind, publicly traded fund of government-backed mortgages. In 1991 Greg won the bid for Omaha’s municipal lottery, forming Big Red Keno, which became the largest operator of Las Vegas-style keno in the United States. Then, for more than 30 years, Greg and his partners owned and operated Big Red Keno which has raised over $315 million for local community betterment in Nebraska.
In 1995, Greg moved to his beloved Aspen, where he co-founded the Aspen Mountain Club, and served on the board of Theatre Aspen and the Aspen Historical Society, and as a member of the Elks & Rotary Clubs. He and his wife Billie, also a long-time Aspen resident, were married on the grounds of the Aspen Historical Society following a memorable “Great Gatsby Party” in 2006. Greg loved entertaining friends, and he and his wife Billie threw countless parties and gatherings in their West End home.
Greg’s big, bright, infectious smile was a regular treat for residents walking the streets of Aspen’s core. His sense of humor was always present and many in Aspen heard him close a party with his favorite toast: “May misfortune follow ye the rest of your days… And may she never catch up to ya!”
Greg first learned he had Parkinson’s disease when he was 55 years old. However, he refused to allow the diagnosis to define him. Instead, his heart continued to open for the rest of his days. His positive attitude and optimism were an inspiration to many here in Aspen, and as his family recalled, no matter how mightily he was struggling with health issues, when asked how he was, his response was always “Doing great, thanks!” Despite ill health, he even rallied to attend his son’s wedding in California in October of 2022, where he was the Beau of the Ball.
Greg will be remembered as an astute businessman with a heart of gold, always game to untangle complicated ideas, and help friends and family realize their own dreams. In the closing of his memoir, “Outside the Box: It’s My Story (and I’m Sticking to it)”, Greg wrote “The most important thing in life is to be authentic. Always.”
Greg is survived by his wife, Billie Erwin, his sister and brother-in-law Trudy and John Nelson, his children Stacy Kray, Faith Freed, Geoff Erwin, his four grandchildren Max and Ned Sigler, Jasper and Rya Kray, his step-daughter Sharon Elliot, and her children, Lauren and Justin Lowe.
In lieu of flowers, please send contributions in the name of Greg Erwin to http://www.ParkinsonsVoiceProject.org