Stranahan was the gift that kept on giving |

Stranahan was the gift that kept on giving

Given that practically every other educational or social justice nonprofit owes its existence to George Stranahan, I used to jokingly refer to him as the Johnny Appleseed of Roaring Fork Valley nonprofits. But (of course) he was more like Zeus.

More than 50% of nonprofits fail in the first five years. When I co-founded the Aspen Science Center with George, I had no idea of the dizzying number and variety of challenges we would face. But for George, it was just one of the dozens of apple trees he was tending — and he grappled with each new challenge with his signature fearlessness, iconoclastic humor, and tenacity. (NB George does not give up easily, or ever.)

When people inherit a healthy, thriving Stranahan-created apple tree, they should not take it for granted. All of the late nights, nurturing and acrobatic balancing is in the beginning, and George did it all. So while he is the embodiment of a renaissance wandering visionary, the Johnny Appleseed metaphor sells him short. George did not just throw out a bunch of brilliant apple seeds — he stayed with them till they were healthy trees. He was the gardener, the sun, and the rain.

I guarantee that if there is a Heaven, George is already organizing the angels to make sure that every one of them gets the same respect, privileges, and opportunities. Raising hell, in other words!

Goodbye, George, Earth will miss you.

Kevin Ward