Letter: A good man gone too soon
My face lit up today when I answered my cellphone to hear my old friend Dottie Wolcott on the line. That happiness turned instantly to grief and heartbreak when she told me she was calling to tell me about the death of my old friend and compatriot Stewart Oksenhorn. Like all of you, I am struggling to make sense of and comprehend how the man I knew, a man so full of life and love, could have turned so desperate and alone.
That said, my mind is also suddenly filled with all of the great memories I have of Stewy from my “glory days” at The Aspen Times. When I first arrived there as the new fledgling night editor in 1996, Stewart was one of the first people to take the time to get to know me. When he found out my daughter’s name was Willow, he instantly assumed we were former hippies. How heartbroken he was to learn that I much preferred early Metallica and Tool to the Grateful Dead. Nevertheless, an instant friendship born from a deep love of music and a desire for friendly debate began that continued throughout my years in Aspen. It also meant that I was the happy recipient of all of the CDs Stewy received that he didn’t like, great pieces of music by bands still mostly unknown.
The memories are many: knowing the exact second every day when I would hear from my office Stewy yell out, “420!”; his never-ending supply of pajama bottoms; how much he adored Willow and how absolutely blessed he felt when Olivia entered his life; dinners with him and Candice while Willow and his dog, Tony, rolled around on the carpet. On and on. Mostly I always will remember Stewart Oksenhorn for his kindness, his fierce passion, his dedication to all of the arts and his craft, and the great lesson he taught me, which is that all of life’s hurdles can be overcome if you simply keep pressing forward. I have carried that lesson through many difficult years and challenges. I wish I had had the chance to remind him of that lesson in recent days.
My heart goes out to his family, all of our many friends at The Aspen Times and, most especially, the entire Roaring Fork Valley community. Stewart did much more than write about the people who call that special place home; he was their friend, their voice and, many times, their support. Rock on, Stewy.
Former Aspen Times editor
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