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.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
A Memorial Service for Branko Winston Churchill will be held at 2:00p.m. on Saturday, August 8th at the Flying W Ranch, 3330 Chuckwagon Road, Colorado Springs. The service will be held at the outdoor seating area at the back of the property.
The reception will follow the service at the home of Dennis & Jovanka Mersman, 1180 Golden Hills Road, Colorado Springs.
We welcome all of his friends and family.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
skill on a mountain bike to many experiences of trying to keep up with him on the snow. Many remembered his smiling face over their routine morning coffee. Many had shared life affirming and outrageous adventures with him.
The service ended with an incredibly vivid rainbow off the side of Kendall Mountain. We then blasted some DJ Verifine mixes of Winston's until after the sun had disappeared behind Anvil Peak. The whole gathering really conjured a feeling of his presence among us.
Thank you to Lyn and Eric for donating the Kaladi coffee and tea. Thank you to everyone who came. Winston is right...Silverton IS the best place on earth.
We really miss Winston, but we will keep a bit of his best legacy alive in these mountains where, we all agreed, we got to share some really good years with him.
hi-- i can't figure out how to post to your blog, but wanted to tell you of my brief experience with winston. i met him and townsend almost a year ago, on 7/29, on the colorado trail. camped near him and a guy named taylor for two nights, south of where the trail crosses 50, north of where it crosses 114. he built enormous campfires in the morning and the evening, and kept mainly to himself, though i did hike with him and a very tired townsend for an hour or so on 7/30 until we reached baldy lake. t was down to three booties and would stop on the trail until winston cajoled her into continuing. he told me that he had been in the creative writing program in boulder. i was kiddingly lamenting my unwashed state, so he shared a few drops of the aveda rainforest oil he carried with him. for some reason, i imagined sending him mail drops, and have a list in my journal of what i'd send him, including dog treats for t, tea bags, and honey packets. the night at baldy lake was fun and chatty for all four of us, it seemed to me (winston, t, me, taylor). i was in class at colorado state last semester, discussing 'into the wild', when my friend whitney told us that her sister's friend had gone missing in the wilderness. she began to describe winston and a very twilight-zone feeling came over me when i realized it was the same guy. i'm so sorry to all of you who were close to him, and who have been so dedicated to finding him. i wanted to share this small experience with you since it was near the end of his communication, and because he was a memorable part of my trip. my condolences. --shane b.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
12th at 6pm. Winston's Silverton friends and anyone else interested
to join will raise a toast and share remembrances at Montanya, 1332
Blair Street, on the patio, in the shadow of Kendall Mountain. Anyone
is welcome to join. A round of drinks including Winston's favorite
Kaladi coffee, will be provided by the owners of Montanya. Come if
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
From Jerry Gray, Hinsdale County Coroner on July 7, 2009:
Winston passed away in a remarkably beautiful valley in the Uncompaghre Wilderness in late 2008, probably between mid-November and mid-December. On July 2nd 2009 a body was discovered by hikers in Porphyry Basin above the Middle Fork of the Cimarron River in northern Hinsdale County. Hinsdale Sheriff and Deputy, SAR members, Coroner and a CBI agent responded to the location on the 3rd. Most of those present had participated in the search around Lake City for Winston in the fall of 08. Having spent the winter and spring under the snow pack, and having only recently melted out, the body was essentially mummified. Even though visual confirmation that it was Winston was not possible from facial features, a high index of suspicion that it was indeed Winston was supported by a pair of hiking poles, a bone colored Arc'Teryx parka and items in his pack including an extensive journal which was unfortunately unreadable due to the ink bleeding from being wet. At autopsy on Monday, an expired Silverton Mountain Ski Pass with photo ID was discovered in one of his jacket pockets virtually confirming his identity. We will proceed to make positive identification through dental records or DNA but the Sheriff and myself are 99.9% certain this is Winston. He was found lying on his back next to the cabin below. He had not gained entrance into the cabin; probably either because the snow was already too deep or because he was too weak from starvation and exposure when he arrived. The Porphyry Basin area is exceedingly beautiful and no doubt held spiritual significance for him. The top of Porphyry Basin from a quarter mile or so above the cabin.
My condolences go out to all of Winston's friends and family.
Hinsdale County Coroner
Yesterday we received a call from the Coroner indicating that Branko's
body had been found last Thursday by a hiker upstream from Silver Jack
Reservoir in the Uncomphagre Range. The coroner will be posting
additional information in this blog.
It seems he died last fall/winter from malnutrition/exposure at 11,300
feet and was covered by the snow throughout the winter.
We'll keep you posted.
Thank you to everyone for your hope, prayers, and support.