Part-time Snowmass couple remembered for love of family, adventure
A memorial service and reception for Ed and Judy Cort will be held at 3 p.m. March 28 at the Montrose United Methodist Church (19 S. Park Ave.).
Memorial donations may be made to Valley Youth Orchestra, Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans, or HopeWest Montrose.
Love for each other, love of family, love of adventure.
These are the three defining characteristics used to describe George “Ed” Cort, 83, and Judith “Judy” Cort, 81, a part-time Snowmass couple who died 10 days apart last month.
Ed died Feb. 12 from injuries sustained after falling into the Snowmass Ski Area halfpipe two days earlier. Judy died Feb. 22 from a tear in her aorta, or a “broken heart,” according to her family.
“Even though they had slowed down a little, it was not like normal 80-year-olds would. They were so active and always out doing and living their lives,” said Bill Cort, the couple’s eldest of three sons, who lives in Grand Junction.
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“I didn’t think things would end so sudden like this.”
On a recent morning, Bill reminisced of memories with his parents, including hiking, biking and skiing first near their home in Pennsylvania, then in the New Mexico area and later around Montrose, where Ed and Judy had lived most of the calendar year since their retirement in 1993.
They also have owned a Laurelwood Studios condo in Snowmass since the late 1990s, and had been visiting the Aspen area for its outdoor, music and other cultural offerings for decades.
Both Ed and Judy were Pennsylvania natives and received degrees from Pennsylvania universities — Ed earning a bachelors and masters in mechanical and nuclear engineering at Carnegie Mellon and Judy a bachelors in nursing at Western Hospital School of Nursing.
The couple met at a mixer dance at Judy’s nursing school in 1957 and had been together ever since.
“They were married in college and stayed with each other until the end,” said Jeff Cort, one of Ed’s closest cousins. “They loved to travel and spend time together doing all sorts of things. I bet they spent more than 200 days a year hiking, biking, skiing, you name it. They were go, go, go all of the time.”
For Jeff, his close bond with the Cort couple grew from skiing together, mainly with Ed, over the past 40 years. He said he had a genuine fondness for Ed and Judy, who he described as super people, and was inspired by their relationship and the way they lived their lives.
Just a few days before Ed’s accident, Jeff said the cousins skied roughly 25,000 vertical feet at Snowmass together while Jeff was visiting the village with friends for the weekend.
Over the most recent visit — which proved Ed was more fit than Jeff — Jeff grew inspired to be more like his cousin as he grows older.
“I was always impressed with their mental sharpness and level of physical stamina and went away motivated to get in better shape and enjoy life like them,” Jeff said of the recent trip to Snowmass, noting Ed has been skiing for at least 60 years. “So it was shocking when I found out what happened.”
Bill echoed Jeff’s disbelief of his dad’s accident, saying he thought for sure the son-father duo would have a few more years of skiing together. He skied with his father just days before the accident, too.
When his mom called him that Monday to tell him his dad was in the hospital, Bill said he didn’t understand the severity until she called again and said he was transported to the Front Range. He drove from Grand Junction to Snowmass to take Judy up to Denver to be with Ed. He died in the hospital two days later.
After spending a few additional days with family in the Denver area, Bill said he drove with his mom back to Montrose, noticing she seemed to be growing anxious about going home to an empty house.
He stayed with her for a few days in Montrose when she said she wasn’t feeling well, so he took her into the emergency room.
“Again, it was a whole lot more serious than I had envisioned,” Bill said of his mom’s sudden illness. “It’s hard to imagine someone having a heart issue related to their grief, but I guess it can happen.”
From mountain biking parts of the Great Divide trail, which runs from Canada to Mexico, with friends, to road biking, backpacking and hiking across the country and the globe, Bill and Jeff said the Cort couple will always be remembered for their caring, active spirits and their deep love for all adventure.
Later this month, Bill said some of his family plans to vacation in Snowmass before traveling to Montrose for Ed and Judy’s memorial service.
They hope to retrace part of Ed’s path that Monday morning to the Snowmass halfpipe, but Bill knows it won’t be easy and it won’t give them all of the answers.
Both Aspen Skiing Co. vice president of communications Jeff Hanle and Pitkin County deputy coroner Eric Hansen said there is no new information about Cort’s accident, which happened on a foggy morning and was not witnessed by anyone. Hanle said when looking downhill, Cort went off the skier’s left side of the halfpipe, which is the side adjacent to a stand of trees.
“My best guess is that the conditions that day had driven him to a place he would not normally go, but we’ll never be able to know what was in his mind and what he was thinking,” Bill said.
“That’s one of the things about skiing, you’re always taking risks out there. That’s part of the reason why we’re out there in the first place, … but I definitely thought I’d have a few more years left to ski with my dad.”
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