Old friend offers homeless man lodging for Christmas weekend | AspenTimes.com

Old friend offers homeless man lodging for Christmas weekend

Eben Harrell
John Cordas sits on an Aspen street recently. Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox.

It was shaping up to be a fairly run-of-the-mill Christmas for Clark Messec, an elementary school teacher living in New Jersey, until he received a phone call from an excited friend last week.The friend, an avid skier, called after visiting The Aspen Times website last Thursday and reading the profile of John Cordas. Messec took his buddy’s advice and logged on. “I couldn’t believe it,” Messec said. “John is a close friend who I’ve known since high school.”Messec, 57, was shocked to see his friend living the rough life. Cordas is homeless, living off the money he begs each day from people on the streets of Aspen. Messec picked up the phone and booked Cordas a hotel room for three days over Christmas.

“John’s one of the most generous people I’ve ever met,” Messec said. “After high school I joined the Marine Corps. When I got back I went straight to college. John helped me out a lot, especially when I was a student. It’s all I can do to help him now myself.”Messec said he last heard from Cordas 10 years ago, when Cordas was living in Mobile, Ala., and working for an oil company. It came as a shock to see Cordas had fallen on such hard times.”Not in my wildest dreams would I have thought it would come to this,” he said. “John is smart and capable. He knows how to do just about everything. He knows electric work, plumbing, he’s got a gold seal boiler operator’s license. I’m just shocked.”Messec said most of the information provided by Cordas for the Aspen Times profile was correct. Cordas did live for years in Princeton and worked for Bell telephone company. Whether Cordas holds a degree from Princeton Seminary, Messec can’t say.

“The bottom line is that John is a smart, capable man. I don’t have a real explanation as to how this happened. I guess alcohol must have played a part,” Messec said.Messec has paid for a room at the Skier’s Chalet under Cordas’ name for Dec. 24, 25 and 26. Christine O’Callaghan, the manager of Skier’s Chalet, said Cordas will be welcomed like any other guest.”I think it’s wonderful. It’s a beautiful Christmas story. We are just the kind of lodge to host it,” O’Callaghan said.As of press time, Cordas had not been located. If the reading public comes across him, please have him contact Eben Harrell at The Aspen Times at 970-925-3414 to arrange details of his stay.

“I hope we can track him down,” Messec said. “There’s a dignity to John and I’d hate to feel like he lost that over Christmas.”Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com(John Cordas has a hotel room booked in his name beginning Dec. 24 at the Skier Chalet. Any readers who know where to find him could do Cordas a favor by directing him to Eben Harrell at The Aspen Times, 925-3414, or just direct him to the Skier Chalet in Aspen on Aspen Street.)


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