Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dear Friends,

Many of you by now have heard the news that Chris Spurgeon was killed in a wet slide avalanche on Monday, June 14; a small group of friends located his body yesterday morning about 9:30 at the base of the Lantern Lake Couloir, which drops northwest from the summit of Lolo Peak. Based on his injuries I can say with confidence that it is highly unlikely he suffered. He was not buried; he died from trauma sustained in the avalanche.

Many of Chris's family and friends have come together in this crisis to offer one another support and love. We are all in shock and wrestling with the reality of losing such an amazing human being. Words cannot possibly express the sorrow Chris's family--Susie, Mike, Rick, and others--are feeling at this time. My heart is breaking for their loss, as well as for my own, and for yours. Our lives will never be the same again. 

I skied with Chris two days before he died, from the summit of Gray Wolf Peak in the Missions. He was ecstatic that day, and talked about the book he was reading, "Autobiography of a Yogi," about Eastern spirituality, life and death, and the presence of God in nature. For the rest of my life I will remember him flying down the summit snowfield, a smile on his face, his beloved Missions to the north. 

Every one of you, I am sure, has dozens of stories to share about Chris as we move forward without him. I encourage you to gather, to share your stories, to laugh, to hug each other, to be with friends, and to be reminded of the preciousness of each moment we share together. Looking south to Lolo Peak has been helpful for me today, as I take some solace in knowing he was living his life on his own terms, one of the most free spirits I have ever known.

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you who knew and love Chris.




  1. I've obviously been thinking about Chris the alot the last few thing struck me in years and years of memories I recalled. Chris ALWAYS made me smile, no matter what. Every single memory brought a smile to my face. Few people in my life can do that anymore(cept my kiddos), and for that I will miss him dearly. Thanks for the memories bud. And thanks for all you brought to our lives. Next time we meet it'll be bluebird skies and waste deep...

  2. I got the honor of seeing Chris during Christmas vacation. He and his mom stopped at my parents' house on their way out of Lewistown. Over the years Chris had definitely evolved into someone different than the Chris we had grown up with in our school days. However, there were a few things that had stayed consistent; he was as kind as always, smiled with true meaning, and had a sparkle in his eye!
    As my heart aches for the loss of a friend and for his family; I find comfort in the fact that Chris left this earth doing something he loved. As a classmate and I were trying to understand why this happened, I told her that when I visited with Chris at Christmas, I thought that he had found inner happiness. My life is richer having known Chris Spurgeon!

    Jamie Horacek

  3. I cannot express how sad I was to hear the news. I kept thinking of all the goodness about Chris. I don't know if I ever heard him speak a bad word about anyone...maybe about my dad, who was his freshman basketball coach, which all the classmates said he was tough! Chris was such a great guy that did always make you smile or he had that little grin of his looking back at you!

    As Jamie said, my heart just hurts for his family going through this, we have all lost a great friend way too early. I will always keep Chris in my heart and am so happy to known him and have him touch my life.

  4. Colin, this is a great way to remember Chris, thanks for setting it up and it looks GREAT!

  5. I will always remember Chris, by the way he ran the Court. Always seeing the different options he had, and always choosing the right one. Just a gifted guy and a great Friend.

    I will always remember the time when Chris and I had to walk back to the Bug when a party got busted Such a great time to spend with a great guy.

    Chris you will be missed always, and will remain in my Heart.

    Will Luhrsen

  6. Caleb and Traci StolteJune 21, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    I met Chris in the summer of 1995..we both were embarking on a new journey..Radiology Tech Program at St. Pats. As most of you have said..I took to the sparkle in Chris's eye and the awesome smile on his face. Chris was a quiet and private when he talked, you listened!
    Within short order..he became good friends with Caleb and I and our circle of friends. Mountain bike racing, trips to Moab, back country skiing, and shooting the shit..thats what those days were about. Time marched on..Chris living in Missoula and us in Whitefish. We always stayed in touch.
    When Cal Williams passed away it was a tragic loss. Chris arrived at our house, Cal was living with us at the time, he had the burdon of having to tell us about the accident. The loss
    of a close friend profoundly affected us all. We all grieve in different ways....
    My heart has ached since the news of Chris's death. My head is full of times shared with him that can never be taken away..I will miss you Chris, thank you for being you!!!
    One of the last forms of communication I had with Chris was a letter that we recieved in the mail from him this spring...
    Dear Traci & Caleb, Only in Missoula can you see a guy wearing black leather pants, rattlesnake hide pointy cowboy boots, riding a Huffy with everything he owns strapped to it. I often wonder if people really choose to live life on the edge; outside of the mundane and comforts of civilized life..or does society place them in this spot because of some defect, some flaw that does not fit into this polished and shiney civilized world? Of course I start to feel guilty and wonder what I have done or what sacrfices I should start to make to make life seem more live closer to the bone. I am thankfull for these people that cause some small amount of pondering as I stroll down the river trail.
    I miss all of you. I think of you often, and I especially replay some of the conversations that we have had and try as best that I can to be true to my own soul. I have fallen in love, out of love..I have raised chicks that are now chickens, that are now laying eggs. Bitsy is fat and very happy. I hope this finds you healthy and full of joy. Love C.S.

    This letter has hung on our frig since I've opened it and it will remain there. We love you C.S. and you have forever made an imprint on our hearts and souls....

    We gave Bitsy (his cat) to Chris..if she needs a home we will gladly help out!!
    peace and love to all in this difficult time.
    Caleb and Traci Stolte

  7. Stephanie SpurgeonJune 21, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    I was blessed to have Chris as my cousin. As I was looking at old pictures today I saw some of him holding me as a baby, he was fresh out of high school. Even back then he had that shy smile and that look in his eye that showed what a loving, caring man he was. I only got to see him once or twice a year but I looked forward to those times. We had so much in common, I felt like he was one of the only people I could really relate to. Every time I saw him he would find the time to sit me down and ask how life was going. He was never too busy to make sure everyone else was doing ok. Chris had a way with people, just spending time with him made you feel like a better person. I am devastated that I won't be able to talk to him again, or give him a hug, or go hiking or rafting in Glacier with him. I will forever miss his smile and soft spoken words. He saw more beauty and so many places that many of us will never get the chance to experience. He lived his life to the fullest and he died doing what he loved. I can picture him skiing in Heaven, fresh powder, in his short sleeve shirt, the sun beating down and a huge smile on his face. Chris wouldn't want us to be sad, he would say to me "Come on Stephie don't get all upset over me, be happy, get out there and do what you love. It'll all be ok" Everytime I see the sunset or hear the leaves rustling in the wind it reminds me of Chris. I picture his smile and his blue eyes that were so full of love for his friends and family and I think about how lucky we all are to have known Chris Spurgeon. We love you Chris and will forever miss you. Thank you for being such a wonderful cousin and impacting so many of our lives!

    Stephanie Spurgeon

  8. I was extremely saddened to hear of Chris's passing. Even though many years have gone by, Chris was a special friend who's memories will never be forgotten.
    I went to xray school with him, and with there being only 4 of us, we became a close "family". I remember Chris for his smile, his independence, his love for the outdoors, and his wisdom.
    My prayers go out to his family and his close friends....time will heal, but never let the memories fade.

    Brenda Wolery Maloney

  9. To Learn to Be A Tree-

    If I stand here and don't make a sound I will become part of what I long for. The birds will not know that I am alien to this forest. Soon, the will land on my shoulders and if I am careful I might be able to count the threads of each feather before they take flight again.The air is pure and clean like the snow I stand in. Snap, pop. The trees are speaking to each other, they have forgotten I am a voyeur here and the tell their stories as if I am just a tiny sapling, a seedling, waiting to gain the knowledge I will need to stand her for 100 years. The sun is casting my shadow on the ground in front of me and for a moment I see my branches. They are reaching to the sky for the light and the air and the wonderment of all that surrounds me. I am home here. I feel the pull of the world around me but I know that the hawk that circles above me is considering my branches so I must remain still no matter how difficult. Oh what I would do to hold his nest. To watch as swathes of grass are weaved one by one until his home is made in my hands. I will protect it from the winds when they come. I will hold it to my bosom as if it were my own. I must go now, for it is not meant to be that I can stand here for a lifetime. But this moment, this moment that I lived as a tree will not be forgotten. I will come here when I long to be grounded and rooted to the earth, for I have much more to learn from the trees.

    For Chris-You are not gone, you are not forgotten. You live in our hearts now.

  10. My Mom and I were remebering Lil Baby Chris and how he'd shake his head, laugh and show his sweet shy smile every time we called him that. I too went to Xray school with Chris and had not seem him recently. However, that kind of guy leaves a lasting impression on everyone he meets. Thanks so much Chris for the memories, the fun, shooting hoops and mostly the wisdom in your mentoring. We love you and you will forever live on in our memories. Your invincible now my friend, ski hard.

  11. Saturday I walked around town trying to get a grip on what I had just been through when I came across this quote; "And in the's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln. All of us that knew Spurg know that he packed more life into his days than most people could dream of. He was a beautiful person and I will miss him greatly.


  12. God chooses his angels carefully. Those of us left behind mourn our loss,realizing we were blessed so briefly with their immense presence in our lives and not wanting it to end. Chris was one of those incredible people who come along so rarely and impact so positively,in so many ways, everyone he meets. I met Chris when I came to St Pat's to work in 2001. I worked with him and with Susie during her last year of training. Then had the priveledge of working with her for 6 years at Community where I got to hear about Chris and his adventures. She was so proud and close to him. The love and respect he had for his Mom was palpable. Occasionaly he stopped by and I was able to say hello. He always had that quiet spiritual way that made you want to sit down and get to know him better. Our gifts from God are to be cherished. When I read Susie's FB post about him and the hope still there she would get to give him the hugest hug, was the first I had heard about Chris. Then I looked at the Missoulian online and read the artice there. No name was given but I knew. My heart fell into my stomach and my prayers went up. It was as if my own son was suddenly gone and I ached for Susie. She was always giving support and asking about how my Son was doing the 2 tours of duty he did in Iraq. I so wanted to be able to help and give support to her too. I am thankful that if Chris can't be here to enrich our lives that he was able to go doing what he loved. He is enriching someone somewhere on the otherside. They must certainly be special in God's eyes to be so fortunate.

  13. I did not hear of Chris's death until Sunday night, and was so shaken! I still cannot quite believe it. Although I was only seeing Chris a few times a year in the past years, usually passing each other downtown somewhere, it always felt like we had seen each other just the day before. Chris was one of the most humble, kind and honest men I have met in my life. So genuine, open and real. Not to mention, one of the strongest and most gifted athletes I have ever known. His reputation among mtn bikers, runners and skiers was nothing short of legendary. However, one would never know it as he NEVER bragged or trash talked about anyone. In fact, I cannot recall Chris ever saying anything critical about anyone! The world is a lesser place with Chris not in it. RIP my friend.

  14. I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom, and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.
    - Dawna Markova

    I am calmed in the assurance that Chris did not die an unlived life. The amazing things he did, places he explored, and the many different circles of friends that are mourning the loss of a truly beautiful soul. It takes a very special person to touch so many hearts. There are many things I will miss about not having Chris in my life but most of all I will miss his smile and the light behind his eyes always reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. Ohh and of course I will miss those amazing dance moves - some day we will dance again in the snow. Chris, ski those endless powder fields in heaven and take a few turns for me. Love and prayers to family and friends, he is gone but will never be forgotten.

  15. This thought of you will always stay, loving you will never pass,as I look high I can see your face smiling in the sky so perfectly laced,an angel with a beautiful face Chris forever loved R.I.P. I love you lindsey your cousin

  16. I am so sad to hear this news. I knew Chris only to briefly and am sad to say I didn't keep in touch. I have often wondered over the years, what he's up to, how he is......Our brief encounter left an impact on my soul and I will always remember Chris's sweet, kind and gentle spirit. -Melissa

  17. I just found out about the trajic loss of Chris. I started having all of these memories from football and basketball as well as during high school. Most of all I remember him always laughing and having a good time. I still can see his blue vw bug crusing down main. I am trully sorry for the loss of his life and pray for comfort for his family.

    Cory Wright

  18. Janell UnderwoodJune 24, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    Chris was such an important part of our Saint Pat's family and will be missed so much. Mark Colyer is putting together the food for the celebration of Chris. He says he needs desserts and salads for the feed. Also please bring chairs and if you have a portable table bring that along too. Thanks.....Janell

  19. During the first thoughts I had about writing for Chris in this blog, his eyes and smile instantly came to mind. I'm not surprised to read that others also took notice of these things.

    The first day that Chris and I met as friends of friends was at a trailhead during a winter morning. What I remember so clearly about Chris that day is the thing that I will remember forever. His eyes revealed that he exalted in the splendor of the world and in having this amazing gift of life. His smile showed that he understood the significance of the moment, and was so happy that it was not passing him by. Our smiles together showed that we understood each other, and in this way we connected very deeply.

    I know this to be true of Chris, not as conjecture, but by expressed words also. No matter what subject we may have been analyzing and speaking of, whether it was the natural world, human behavior, politics, how we perceive things, or just life never took too long for us both to reach the same conclusion: that life was an amazing gift, never to be taken for granted, and that each moment with our loved ones were to be cherished. We traveled the mountains together to be reminded of this.

    If I were the last person on earth, I would go climb a mountain to realize my potential for achievement, and to see if I was worthy of the accomplishment. But I would not go back the next day, unless it was with a friend like Chris. We all climb mountains for many different reasons. but I can say with confidence that the most important reason for me is to find the sublime satisfaction in witnessing the world in all its glory, to share this understanding with the friend I am with, and to come home with a profound appreciation for this wonderful chance to live.

    Our days on the trail with Chris are gone, and we can no longer look into his eyes and exchange smiles. But we can remember his eyes, and his smile, and we can still feel what they mean. As we move forward without him, let us try to fill the empty space in our hearts with that feeling of amazement and wonder for life which Chris’s smile revealed to us.

  20. The first time I met Chris was on a hut trip in Canada.
    He hugged me and I felt my soul turn.
    You know when you’ve met someone you can’t live without.

    Chris told me I should grow my hair out long.
    Waist deep or longer.
    I asked him what he was shooting for.
    Regarding his hair, that is.
    Freedom. He said.

    I tried to write a poem about Chris’s hair once.
    It seemed like some crazy external expression
    For his internal spiritual quest.
    Wild and pure. Purposefully untamed.
    I never had much success.
    Chris was a complicated guy.
    So was his hair, I guess.

    I’m a small person, he said once.
    Maybe – I said. But you wear your heart on your sleeve.
    And your smile… it is a treasure
    That lights up a room.
    And you look at a person’s soul before you see their skin.
    In fact, there’s not a lot small about you,
    When you look at the whole situation.

    Chris and I…
    We could while away the day
    Pontificating about life and love and God.
    We solved the world’s problems over coffee.
    We talked about cosmic forces like we knew something.
    He challenged me to say what I meant.
    He listened to understand.
    It was enlightening, and exhausting, and exhilarating.
    But that’s how Chris was. Nothing was half-assed.

    Chris needed a lot of time to himself.
    He was an intellect and a voracious reader.
    He was soulful and sacred and restless.
    He was purposeful because he worked at it.
    He had copious questions that he diligently set out to answer.
    And yet he was a dreamer, and made time to lay around in the grass.
    Why do we take life so seriously? he said.
    I guess because its serious business sometimes, I said.
    Let’s just breathe then.
    At times that’s all you can do.

    More than ever
    These days, this week.
    Lolo Peak seems to engulf my head.
    My heart. My life. This town.
    What I would give for one more sideways mischievous glance.
    One more breath. One more hug.
    Chris was dark. And light. And love.
    And he will be missed by many.
    He will be missed by me.

  21. For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind
    and to melt into the sun?

    And what is to cease breathing,
    but to free the breath from its restless tides,
    that it may rise and expand
    and seek God unencumbered?

    Only when you drink from the river of silence
    shall you indeed sing.
    And when you have reached the mountain top,
    then you shall begin to climb.

    And when the earth shall claim your limbs,
    then shall you truly dance.

    Kahlil Gibrahn

  22. We all personally know how and what Chris meant to each and every one of us. More importantly, I think Chris's life, his legacy would be to live life in its fullest, simplest - less complicated way; to walk happily and strive to be at peace within yourself- setting priorities that really matter and that would encourage growth of our 'souls' and 'faith'; To make the time to tell those that are important to you, and how much they mean to you, and to let them know they are loved.

    Chris's life was an inspiration to many - allow this inspiration to continue to grow in every one of us - this would be the greatest 'tribute' we could give back to Chris and his family-

    My heart aches for Susie and her family. May God wrap His arms around them and shower them with His love and everlasting peace.

    See you on the other side, Love, Pam

  23. I've known Chris for the past 4 1/2 years and he knows I'm not good with feelings :). I have been so blessed to work with him in the same 7 on 7 off. He is a wonderful man and will means so much to me. I could go to him and talk to him about anything, and he alway listened and gave his advise, which i cherished. I have so many found memories of him, I think to many to share :-) But I will share this..... He was a great complex man that had a heart of gold. My heat goes out to his family, you are all so wonderful. Chris you are one of my greatest friends and I will see you someday again. I miss you greatly and can't wait to see you again.

  24. You are now my angel when I look above I know you watch below when you went with your father above I felt like a part of me had gone to but I will have you with me every day you are my angel Chris

  25. My memories of Chris:
    My best memories of Chris revolve around dancing. At a cabin on Flathead Lake, in his living room fueled by mojitos, at the Union Club, or during a karaoke night at the Reno Casino. Whether observing or letting loose, Chris loved music and being around people who shared that passion.

    I also miss the way his eyes and mouth would work together like cogs in a complicated machine when talking. His eyes would look over with a sidewise glance, his mouth would purse to the side, and a question would come out. My description can not do my memory justice but talking to him was like talking to his whole person. His whole body would respond. And nothing would be said lightly. He really wanted to know how your day was, how you were. His whole being let you know that he cared.

    Lastly, I loved hearing him talk about Bitsy. Although I have a soft spot for a man with a cat, you could tell he loved her just by how he pronounced her name, like she was too much cat for one word so he made it two...Bit-sy. I used to ask him about her every time I saw him, just so I could him him say her name, Bit-sy.

  26. My most vivid memory of Chris was one night of my class reunion- I was in Rick's class- Chris and a buddy decided to hijack our tahoe and jump in the back to crash our party. he was smiling that mischievous smile with that "Chris" gleam in his eye. He was up to no good and having a blast doing so. We all had such a great night that night, and I remember how he had everyone laughing. You really couldn't be in a bad mood around him- even if you tried!! I admire the closeness in the Spurgeon family, and my heart aches for you. In his life he brightened this little patch of world, I know that I am a better person for knowing him. I hope you are enjoying your chat with God Chris, I can only imagine all of the questions you would be asking!!
    -Angie Wright-Donovan

  27. To all of you.
    Thank you very much for attending a funeral service of Chris of Saturday.
    He left the splendid blue sky. It was like that day when he enjoyed skiing.
    He always watches us from the sky....sometimes.... with his middle finger you know that.......
    We love you Chris!
    ...Anyone please visits his parent anytime, and please share his memory.

    Si un jour  (Roger Duplat)
    Si un jour je meurs dans la montagne
    C’est à toi mon vieux camarade de cordée
    Que j’adresse ce testament:
    Va voir ma mère
    Et dis-lui que je suis mort heureux
    Que je n’ai pas pu souffrir puisque j’étais près d’elle
    Dis à mon père que j’étais un homme
    Dis à mon frère que c’est à lui que je passe maintenant le relais
    Dis à ma femme que je lui souhaite de vivre sans moi
    Comme j’ai vécu sans elle
    A mes fils qu’ils retrouveront les traces de mes ongles
    Dans la granit des Etançons.
    Et toi, mon compagnon:
    Prends mon piolet
    Je ne veux pas que lui meure de honte
    Emmène-le dans quelque belle face
    Et cale-le là sur un petit cairn que tu n’auras fait rien pour lui
    Loin de passage des foules
    Dresse-le pour qu’il soit
    L’aurore triomphante sur le glacier
    Et le coucher sanglant derrière la crête.
    Et pour toi, voici mon cadeau:
    Prends mon marteau et que tes coups dans le protogine
    Secouent mon cadavre de frissons de volupté
    Fais tant de bruit dans la paroi et sur la crête
    Va car je serai avec toi …

    This is a letter about a French mountaineer who met with disaster in the Himalayas.
    Nobel prize writer translates it in Japan, and it is sung as a song of mourning by mountaineers.

    So one day

    1.  If one day I die sometime at a mountain
      Tell the friend of an old mountain

    2.  When I was peaceful for mother
      When died manlike; to father

    3.  To the wife whom I tell, and is dear
      When even if I do not return, I live

    4.  To sons my covering short trace
      When I stay in the rocky mountain of the hometown (a hometown)

    5.  A cairn small a friend on the mountain
      I pile it up and make it a grave, and put up an ice ax

    6.  To the face that my cairn is beautiful
      The large terrace where a positive of the morning wins

    7.  My hammer to give a friend
      Tell a singing voice of the piton

  28. Work In the Invisible
    by Rumi

    The Prophets have wondered to themselves,
    "How long should we keep pounding this cold iron?
    How long do we have to whisper into an empty cage?"
    So don't be timid.
    Load the ship and set out.

    No one knows for certain
    whether the vessel will sink or reach the harbor.
    Just don't be one of those merchants
    who won't risk the ocean!
    This is much more important
    than losing or making money!
    This is your connection to God.

    Think of the fear and the hope that you have
    about your livelihood. They make you
    go to work diligently every day.
    Now consider what the prophets have done.
    Abraham wore fire for an anklet.
    Moses spoke to the sea.
    David moulded iron.
    Solomon rode the wind.

    Work in the invisible world
    at least as hard as you do in the visible.
    Be a companion with the prophets,
    invisibly, so that no one knows.

    You can't imagine what profit will come!
    When one of those generous ones
    invites you into his fire,
    go quickly!
    Don't say,
    "But will it burn me?
    Will it hurt?"


    Move around the center
    as pilgrims wind around the Kaaba.
    Being still is how one clay clod
    sticks to another in sleep,
    while movement wakes us up
    and unlocks new blessings.

  29. Stephanie SpurgeonJune 28, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    Stephanie, Thank you so much for posting that poem. We are always here if you need anything. Your free spirit reminds me of Chris and I know you have the ability to impact lives in the same way that he did.
    Stephanie Spurgeon

  30. Ditto (what Stephanie S said), Stephanie D. Thanks you SO much for posting that poem. I felt so uplifted when you read it. It was so kind and generous of you to share. I have thought about your words since Saturday, I kept repeating the lines I could remember in my head, over and over. I think I will type them up and put them with a picture of Chris inside of my locker at work. When I feel overcome with sadness I can go to my locker and let the words you shared lift my spirits again. I hope the words Chris left for you, bring the same peace to all of our hearts.

  31. Thank you Stephanie for posting the poem. It was so wonderful for you to share Chris's message to you. I am going to print it and put it in my locker at work. When I am feeling the sadness of his absence I will go and reread the words he left to you. I felt so uplifted when you read them. We all have posted how dear Chris was to us but you must have been very dear to him. I am so glad he pulled you to the mountain and whispered in the wind.

  32. It’s amazing how the grief from the loss of a loved one can be paralyzing. I lost a best friend and a brother. Unable to deal with the thought of you being gone and unable to speak about you, I curl into a ball and cry for hours. A week goes by and all my thoughts are of you, everything else is a distraction or interruption of my thoughts and memories of you.

    A 20 hour drive to your service is a long one, random tears come often. Montana Mountains bring on anxiety and nervousness. Arriving at the service, your family…my family cry as we hug and the hurt is so foreign; I can’t make it go away. As the service is conducted and I see your pictures I begin to find peace. Colin’s speech is amazing. I quickly abandon my selfish sorrows when surrounded by so many feeling the same grief.

    Exhausted from emotions, tears, and hurt, I join a celebration of your life and time with friends and loved ones. I learn that you had other friends that considered you as their best friend; just as I did. There is a force that leads me to many of those friends and we share stories of you and our times together. I want to meet everyone close to you that has shared you in your element, the one thing I never got to experience with you.

    So thankful for the chance to meet so many incredible people; people you want to be surrounded by always in a life. We were all fortunate to have you part of our lives and thankful for your spirit that helps us go on. Your friends and family brought healing to the hurt, your pictures bring a smile and happy tears. I’m jealous of where you are now. I’m grateful to all your friends who shared their love for you. I’m humbled by so many that understood you as I did.

    Thank you to all that shared with me; to everyone that made the service and celebration of Chris' memory a healing experience. And to Susie, Rick & love and prayers will be with you always.

    I can’t wait to see you again Chris. Until my time comes, I will think of you often and be thankful for your love and friendship.

  33. If Missoula were to have a man-crush, Chris Spurgin was the man. Although I only knew Chris for as long as I have lived in Missoula, I met him the first week I was here and I remember it vividly. I recall meeting someone in a 17th Century French film wearing a worn downjacket. Someone cast as a wild man with refined features. Asking,"who was that", my now-husband said, "That, that's Chris Spurgin. He's the guy who will ride his motocycle 200 miles to run a 50 mile trail race, win it, ride back to Missoula and close Charlie B's. That man is legandary."

    And he is. He is legandary to many people. But what has been such a joy is to speak with so many people--from his high school sweetheart who came all the way from Omaha to his close skiing friends in Missoula--all have the same words of respect, love and admiration.

    For me, I don't have any photos of my time with Chris. Our time was in the kitchen, having lunch at where I work, or just sitting around talking about yoga, our cats, pie crusts, roasted beets and poetry. Things you never think to take a picture of.

    But my fondest memory of Chris was last year at a art show. Chris was the only of my husband's friends to come to a show I had with a friend-a show of poetry paired with photos of natural landscapes of Western Montana. Chris took his time. Read each poem and leaned in closely to photos and didn't say a word. Not until later.
    Later, he talked about writing and poems he kept and read. He talked fast, he had a lot to say. I listened.

    He asked for a poem from that show. A poem that I want to share with you as a photograph of sorts. I feel so honored to have known Chris. I learned so much from him. May his legandary presence remain in our memories. May we all live in this valleyed city with the view of Lolo Peak as a reminder of his life, so full. So fully lived.

    City Horses

    Behind fences in the noon sun, they look tired
    from all the work they haven't done,
    left alone too long from boys who only fall
    in love with women sixteen feet tall,
    screened lips that flicker red. Even in Montana
    horses look silly in cities, slowing traffic down
    to parade some past. A Pow Wow bridled
    on a college campus. Up river, children learn
    to hide without long shadows of barns, spend nights with sky of parking lots instead of fruit
    orchards to feed Appaloosas. The west,harnessed
    by a lone billboard, preaches the burnt word
    from a church's shot gun held in the hands
    of someone else's twelve year old son.
    But the horses, even in their shoes find open
    fields. To be alone. Alone to run.

  34. I didn't know Chris and yet I felt like I knew him so well. He was the wind and the air that we breathe...the free spirit waiting in us all. His death diminishes us all, but his life frees us and calls to us to live our life as he and selfless...searching and giving. The paradox is life itself, reminding us of what is really important.

  35. As one of Chris's aunts, I feel that I need to write regarding this wonderful man that I didn't know all that well. Thanks to all his friends, I now see who and what he was. I just wish I had known him better when he was with us.

    I fell head over heels in love with him when I first saw him as a little boy. He already had that beautiful smile plus the eyes that would melt your heart.

    I was there when he graduated from St. Pats and met some of his wonderful friends. I was so proud of him and loved him so very much.

    Whenever I saw Chris, he always gave me a hug and said "I love you Aunt Terry". Oh, what I wouldn't give to hear him say that just one more time.

    Chris, we missed you at Glacier Park this year. The Spurgeon/Landru clan meet there again and shared memories of how you would always build the perfect campfire plus how you would do this and that to help Grandma and the rest of us. The empty camping chair was there for you to sit and listen to all the B.S. offered by your cousins and Wild Bill.
    Be at peace sweet Chris.

  36. When I look at the mountains now I will see them differently. I will see their beauty and their strength. I will see the majestic call of them to test our limits, climb through our physical pain to conquer our fears. I will see their raw power of nature and love them more. I will see the might of the solitude and peace they give to us. I will see into myself and feel free to let earthly worries disappear. I will see Chris.

  37. I love you Chris you are in my thoughts always I miss you so much

  38. When I awake each morning and look at Lolo Peak, my heart is heavy, I am sad, and I shed tears. You were an amazing boy and an incredible young man. The day you left us I know you were having a great day - beautiful blue skies -- and you could see your beloved Mission Mountains. This does help me get through the day. I love you, Chris, and miss you terribly. I will see you again one day soon.

  39. It has been strange coming into June without you, Chris, despite the time that has passed. Turns out that most of the experts are wrong: grief isn't a clean, linear process, but a messy convoluted journey that comes out of nowhere at the most unpredictable times. This time of year was when I saw you most, seeking out the steepest corn we could find. This spring I have hardly skied at all. Where are you, I wonder, and will I see you again? I think of you often, and share stories with your mom and with friends whenever I have the chance. I have a terrible memory, but I will never forget you or the influence you have had on my life. You would be glad to know that I've bought a subscription to The Sun, and will read it in your honor. Maybe your mom will even let me come over to the house and read it on the back deck, in the company of flowers and dogs and cats and unruly wild things. I miss you, friend. Run wild out there, through those hills that you so love. Namaste, Colin