Braudis lifted Aspen’s spirit

Like Elizabeth Paepcke and John Denver, Bob Braudis is a pillar of Aspen. We are both from Boston and I thank him as a founding father, for inspiring and protecting us all with powerful love. I heard stories of his earlier gun-wearing days but he possessed vast courage and gave it up.

The previous sheriff, Dick Kienast — “Dick Dove and the Deputies of Love” was profiled on national television on “60 Minutes.” He took my acting class and I observed Dick’s peaceful bravado, cajoling the U.S. Secret Service to drive a president (instead of riding in a helicopter) through a crowd of 700-plus enlivened, peace-living Aspenites. Dick chose Bob for a deputy and together they expanded their humane philosophy, working years to provide a creative, honest, safe haven for residents and visitors.

I met Bob when a neighbor cut our deck post down — our sheriff had him promptly red-tagged. My deck tilted after that but the neighbor made up for it when Joe Cocker and Natalie Cole sang in the park next door and in the Aspen spirit, we danced on the sloping deck.

Then Bob was in the audience listening to poetry and I learned that many of his friends were rockers and leaders who maintain and expand our freedom of self-expression.

And when we lost dear friends to tragic circumstance, he went to their homes and cleared up unspeakable disaster. When I saw him afterward, he patted the seat next to him for me to sit, put his arm around me and repeated, “We are safe, we are all safe, my friend.”

Bob is the model for the real King Arthur in my writing. Bob kept his wildness alive and let it out through his eyes. But he also kept it in check so no one got hurt.

He played a huge role in me becoming me and I will love him a long time. And I have a strong hunch he will keep watching over us, from whatever lucky place he resides in now.

Sarah Pletts