Aspen lost a friend...and a good man.
Stewart Oksenhorn was one of the first people I met in Aspen. We had a real world connection through a mutual friend, someone who he had grown up with in New Jersey. Stewart was one of the nicest, purest, most gentle and most authentic people I've met in Aspen. He obviously loved music, film, theatre and all the arts. And I know he loved his daughter, Olivia more than anything, because he told me that.
My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Stewart worked his a$$ off for The Aspen Times. The sheer volume of his writing was utterly impressive. The quality and the passion of his narratives spoke for themselves.
Stewy was a great cat and a mellow cruiser. He always seemed so happy. Stewy was kind of quiet and unassuming....but you could see the wheels turning behind his smiling eyes. Obviously there was a lot going on up top. We often ended up together shooting pix in the front row at Belly Up or in the photo pit at Jazz Aspen. Stewy had the 411 on every band coming to Aspen and he was always willing to share that info.
I wish I would have been there with him on that fateful morning, so sunny and clear. I would have grabbed him by the pony tail and held him back. I would have given him a great big bear hug and squeezed him so tight. I would have stood up there on that bridge and hashed it out with him. I would have picked up that gnarly looking leather back pack of his and handed it to him and said "c'mon Stewy, let's go jam". I would not have taken no for an answer.
I can't imagine what prompted Stewart. What was going on inside his head? Beyond the sorrow and grief and compassion for his family and friends, I have many unanswered questions. Why? What pushed Stewy to make his final decision? Aspen has a suicide rate that is 3 times the national average. Why is that? Why can't we, Aspen, as a town figure out a better way to help people in need? I have no idea why Stewy was hurting so badly inside. Why he was wired to take action. But I do know that people around here loved him and will miss him greatly, especially his daughter. His family and friends back East loved him passionately too.
To me, Stewy's choice is a tragedy that defies explanation. I can't get it out of my head. I wish I could go back in time and help my brother out. But I can't. I'm only left with good memories about Stewy, a kind and gentle soul.
Condolences to his friends and family.
Rest In Peace, Stewart Oksenhorn.