Guest opinion: Memories of Kess will burn brightly, forever | AspenTimes.com
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Guest opinion: Memories of Kess will burn brightly, forever

Editor’s note: This letter was written by Lavelle Saier to her lifelong friend Bob “Kess” Kesselring, who taught skiing at Buttermilk from 1963 through last season. He died from cancer this summer.

Dear Kess,

We have been comrades in the ski school just a year short of 40 years for me. We have gone through Darcy, 20th Century, that rich oilman (can’t think of his name now), and the present owners. Ah, the things we have seen and shared together. We have been through Curt, Dick, Jan, Tim, Victor, Jerry and now Hans. Have we not seen it all, the good and the bad?



I will always remember you as a supervisor and the real old locker room in the basement under the original restaurant. The door opened onto the T-Bar Hill. We had some good parties there, shared with a mouse or two and the hay bales, which I sat on most of one morning throwing up, after Sue Kern and I took Curt out to get him drunk and he turned the tables on us. There were probably not more than 20 of us then. After teaching, we would all go upstairs and party almost every night, or at lest imbibe one drink.

Then, the best locker room was on top of the rental shop, where we shared many an early morning, shoveling the snow off the steps, as per Curt’s demand. Keep tidy! We had many early morning laughs, jokes. You introduced me to Phil Errante there because we both flew. School was so small then and close. That locker room was so much fun and light. Nothing too serious. You, McTarnighan, Bob Knight, Red Soderstrom.




SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

The tequila parties at Wilfred and Gillian’s condo. You guarding the door – making sure everyone had to take a shot of tequila at the door before anyone could go inside. Me trying to sneak by.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

Curt jumping off the balcony because he was so drunk. So many great times and memories. We had the good, fun years, Kess. How lucky we were.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

The Boombass Parties with Big John and Mike Howdon. The Pemoe parties at the Red Onion – party, party, and we were pretty good at it. The polka parties with Steen playing the accordion, Hjordis and Ulfar dancing. Parties at the Tippler with Freddie Fisher coming in and playing the clarinet. All this we shared.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

The old ski school parties at the Jerome, with Curt and you supervisors presiding.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

The years we had to march in the Wintersköl parades. Teaching lessons, then a mad dash to walk in the parade behind the horses in our ski boots with skis over the shoulders, then right back to keep teaching. Wow, we were awesome, were we not? We used to bitch and moan because of the horse manure and having to miss lunch. Problems so simple then, but we thought they were immense.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

The year you broke your ankle at Vail. Coming to see you. You were so strong and really needed very little help. Going up and down those stairs of Stein’s on crutches.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

Your St. Patrick’s Day hat, your countdown to the hump party, Cinco de Mayo, and the end of season.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

Your love of sailing, fishing, skiing and teaching. Knowledge of equipment and forgetting more about skiing and teaching than I or others will ever learn. One of the few people I consider a true professional instructor.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

My special visits to your condo, in the spring, to have one of your terrific margaritas. The interesting conversations. They were too few, but I sure enjoyed them. Learning what a bright person you are, your knowledge of art and Indian jewelry.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

Your wonderful pin collection – coming up to me and saying, “Betcha you don’t have this one, La,” and of course I didn’t, or “Have you see this one, La?” Of course I hadn’t, most of the time. We shared a love of pin collecting.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

The Spanish classes you taught. Many laughs there. Your love of that culture and complete command of that language and several others. Your patience with my poor language skills.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

Our nice afternoon this spring, going to the top of Independence Pass. Your knowledge of the pass that I never knew and sharing it with me. I felt fortunate to have the history and geography lesson that you shared with me.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

I wish I could have had you take me fishing once, would have been such fun and educational. I am sure I would have definitely tested your patience. A few laughs would have been had, though. Never stayed long enough in the spring to bug you to take me. You were saved that experience.

Your skiing down the Ridge on an early morning fresh with powder, with a student; you riding a nice clean edge with that special big smile on your face.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

Your incredible, resolute loyalty to Buttermilk. Your love of Buttermilk and knowing it is the best of anywhere for teaching. Always wanting the best for it and constantly fighting for its true place in the ski world. You never faltered on upholding its great attributes.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

The wonderful concern, care and love you showed to your father throughout his life and at his end. You were always there for him. You were so proud of him, respected him and loved him; one could always see that. What a treasure and a wonderful feeling for your Dad to know he was so loved and cared about.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

It is funny – I was so upset when you left our locker row – was another change at Buttermilk – missed seeing you there in the mornings. Another change because the school was becoming so big, crowded and impersonal. Wouldn’t we go back to the camaraderie of the locker room above the rental shop? In a New York minute!

Your loyalty and enthusiasm for La Cocina. Your countdown to fall opening and to spring closing.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

You always calling me “La.” I will miss that so much.

SHALL I EVER FORGET, I DON’T THINK SO!

Kess, these are JUST A VERY FEW of the things I shall always remember sharing with you. Would take a book for me to put everything down.

I wanted you to know how special you are, and what knowing you and our friendship has meant to me over the years. You have been in my life during all my working years – how many people can say that? Not many, I think! You were a constant, dependable, professional image – you were solid, you were there.

The example you set of being independent and loving your life as you led it. This spring, sharing with me what a great life you had – how you would not change one iota of it – how many can say that? Not many, I am sure.

Your understanding of self; you knew who you were and never doubted yourself. Never got caught up in acquiring material things; just loving the simple things in life. Never being influenced by others in your thoughts, your actions or deeds, because it was thing to do; you thought for yourself. You exemplified the proverb, “Unto thy self be true” How many can say that? Not many, I think.

You lived a simple life with dignity, with a great appreciation of nature, art and life.

When I ski on days with the sun out and on that perfect snow on Ridge; you will be with me always. I will see you zooming along on Ridge, riding that wonderful edge with that special big smile. Hope you will be with me riding on my shoulder. I can always use a few pointers as well; so a whisper in the wind would be wonderful.

Shall I ever forget you? Not in my wildest dreams! I love you, Kess, for all the things we shared together. You, my friend, will always be with me.

I LOVE YOU, KESS.

La


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