Wednesday, August 12, 2009
On Sunday, August 9th, 2009, after an emotionally-charged but beautiful day of celebrating Winston's life the day before, we decided to get up early and drive from Colorado Springs to just west of Gunnison to hike to the cabin where Winston was found. With hopes and intentions of locating his tent/campsite, which had not yet been discovered by anyone including the Forest Service, Sherriff's department or Search and Rescue, Jonathan and I set out on our quest. Guided by some photo "clues" from some of the pictures from Winston's camera, we were able to hypothesize a general location in proximity to the cabin where his campsite might be located. We arrived at the Middle Fork trailhead and hiked up to the offshoot trail leading to Porphyry Basin. The hike is gorgeous and truly, this area of the Uncompahgre Wilderness is impressive with 360 degree views of the mountains including Precipice Peak. It may be one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever been on before. We arrived at the unpatented mining cabin (see picture) and this is where Winston's body was discovered on July 2nd, 2009 by two hikers from Grand Junction, CO. We then proceeded to head up into the basin, and as if being guided by Winston himself, we came across his campsite. His Big Anges tent was still standing with rainfly intact. Most all of his belongings were located inside but were significantly damaged from being waterlogged. Pictures below are from the campsite. One of the pictures above is his bandana that was laying outside of his tent.
Remembering Winston Branko Churchill on Saturday, August 8th, 2009 at his memorial service in Colorado Springs, CO
Friends and family gathered on Saturday, August 8th, 2009 at the Flying W Ranch (fitting, knowing Winston :)) in Colorado Springs, CO. The gathering space was an outdoor seating area surrounded by scrub oak against a backdrop of red rocks with a large, rustic wooden cross. Winston's ashes were nestled in a beautiful bouquet as shown in the picture. Many pictures of Winston were spread about the gathering space, including some salvaged from his camera. It was a beautiful Colorado day with a crisp blue sky and a slight summer breeze blowing. The service was opened by Father Jim Klein, welcoming over 60 of Winston's friends and family members who came from as far as Chicago, IL. Jovanka gave a personalized biography of Winston, touching on his adventurous childhood which carried into his overall zest for life as an adult. A song called Beggar's Prayer by Emiliana Torrini was played. Winston greatly appreciated Torrini's music and he referenced her music in his writings. Christopher, Winston's nephew, read a poem written by Winston which seemed to align with some of Winston's most recent feelings including a line that read, "I am a stranger in a wateland. I am not alone." Then, many eulogies were given, started off by Jonathan and Shanna, reflecting their long-time love and admiration for Winston. The memories and stories shared by many evoked emotions of sadness, accomplishment, dedication, authenticity, and happiness. As was shared, "Winston had obviously been charismatic and generous. He encouraged a lot of poetic and philosophical thought." The repeated picture drawn by eulogists, really a metaphor, was of riding hard but never quite catching Winston's back wheel. Another attendee shared how Winston's presence would actually change the energy of the room and how there was this dynamic energy about Winston. Sarah, from Turin Bicycles, who used to be Winston's barber, brought laughter to the gathering with sharing her stories of how Winston was very particular about his hair. Winston's mother shared a story about Winston's persistence and childhood intelligence which he used to ensure the outcome was in his favor of whatever it was. Through the many stories and sharing of life lessons and wisdom that Winston had offered each and everyone, it was very clear that Winston affected the lives of everyone he met in some way, on some level. We then enjoyed another song by Emiliana Torrini called Serenade. (If you aren't familiar with her music, we definitely encourage you to check her out. She is a very powerful artist.) The committal and closing words were given by Father Jim and Alexa, Winston's niece, read Desiderata by Max Ehrman, reminding us to "be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul." The day concluded with a gathering at the home of Jovanka and Dennis Mersman and more stories and memories were shared as well as watching a DVD slideshow including pictures of Winston.
We know many of you were not able to attend the memorial service but we thank you for your thoughts and prayers on this day of celebrating the life of Winston Branko Churchill. Winston remains close in all of our hearts. He has touched all of us in ways that we hope will continue to be lived out in our actions of helping others and being a vessel for change in our world. Thank you to all who were able to attend.