Much beloved Joan Gaskins passed away on June 7 from natural causes at the age of 61. Despite her early death, she lived a very full life, helped many people and gave and received so much love. After spending most of her childhood in Colorado Springs, she lived in the mountains of Colorado, near Conifer for about ten years and then in Tabernash for almost twenty, with her husband, Bob, whom she loved with all her heart, and they were in the process of building a house in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado.
The daughter of Trudy and Paul Riley, Joan was born in Frankfurt, Germany. She was very close to her dad, who died as a soldier in Vietnam when she was very young, and she drew great strength and inspiration from her mom, who supported and nurtured her family on her own after Paul’s early death.
Joan earned a B.S. degree from the University of Colorado Boulder and her MBA in Managerial Accounting from the University of Denver. She enjoyed a long and successful business career in the cable television, telecommunications, banking, and computer services industries.
Joan placed great value on working to help others, whether they were family, friends, or complete strangers. Between 2002 and 2014, she was Executive Director of the Heart of the Mountains Hospice, where she took over a barely born hospice in 2002 and over the next twelve years helped many people and their families who were in great need of palliative care and love in the final days of their lives. With the wisdom, discipline, and generosity of her leadership, she devoted her life to making the hospice a sustainable and valuable service to the community. Her contributions will hopefully continue to inspire others directly and indirectly so that the spirit of her hospice will live forever.
An enthusiastic artisan, Joan also loved working with her hands to make really nice things for other people. In her workshop at home, she sewed and worked with fabric to make products for Juniperseed Mercantile, which she owned with her daughter Tiffany. In Golden, she helped to make artisanal rum by hand for Ski Bum Rum, a distillery she owned with Bob, her son Ryan, and daughter-in-law Emily.
Joan valued work so much that in her new home in the Roaring Fork Valley she and Bob designed another workshop for her: Joanie’s Workshop would have been the only two-story part of the house, like a little tower, as if to better look upon everyone for whom she worked. Joan herself was a tower, a humble one that didn’t want to attract too much attention, but one that nonetheless reached to the clouds from the perspective of those lucky enough to know and love her.
Thus she was a bit shy about accepting the role of elder at her Presbyterian church, which she was offered by the congregation because of her strong, dedicated faith and her exemplary Christian life of love, humility, and service to others. But she was happy and honored to help lead the life and spiritual growth of the church.
Joan was a very lovable character. Everyone who knew her liked her and felt her warmth. Caring, generous, shy, and silly, she was a great lover of nature, gardening, and her puppies. She sang and drew beautifully, skied adorably, and hiked with her heart overflowing with wonder at the magnificence of our world.
Joan was predeceased by her father and mother, Paul and Trudy Riley. She leaves behind a very close family: her husband Bob, children Tiffany, Ryan, and Billy, daughters-in-law Emily and Stephani, grandchildren Dylan, Graham, and Liam, sisters Linda and Karin and their husbands Ron and Randy, and brother Steve, and nephews and nieces Joshua, Ashley, Nicholas, Kacey, Christopher, Kate, Josiah, Ashlyn, McKinley, Calix, Gemma, and Paul, as well as her beloved dogs, Ollie and Gus.
Donations can be sent to the Pikes Peak Hospice Foundation (2550 Tenderfoot Hill Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80906), or any other charity of your choosing, but probably the greatest gift from Joan’s perspective would be for you to love each other and life, to work to make this world even better, and to do what you can to ensure that death is nothing to fear.
To remember Joan and celebrate her life, a service will take place at Church of the Eternal Hills in Tabernash, Colorado on Saturday, July 30 at 1 pm with a reception to follow.
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