CARBONDALE, Colorado - Dr. Gary Bruce Kitching, the Carbondale man killed in a Vail bar shooting over the weekend, was remembered Tuesday by friends and family as an avid sportsman, mountain climber, family man and good neighbor.
"He was one of those guys who would be out bundled up on the river in the middle of winter doing his thing, which for a 70-year-old man was pretty awesome," said Kirk Webb, assistant manager at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt. "He put us young guys to shame."
Webb joined fellow anglers and family members at a small, impromptu ceremony along the banks of the Fryingpan River Tuesday afternoon to remember Kitching in one of his favorite settings.
"He was one of the most animated people on the river," said Taylor Creek guide Gifford Maytham, who had been taking Kitching on the river for the past 12 years or so.
"It was one of those client-guide relationships that was pretty special," he said. "There's nothing worse than a real boring day in a boat with someone who doesn't talk. That definitely was not Gary."
Kitching died of multiple gunshot wounds when longtime Vail resident Richard "Rossi" Moreau, 63, opened fire in the Sandbar in West Vail around 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Three other people were injured in the shooting, including a 63-year-old man who was in critical but stable condition at a Denver hospital.
Moreau was advised on first-degree murder charges in Eagle County Court on Monday. He is being held without bond.
Kitching had reportedly gone to the bar to watch the college football game of his alma mater, the University of Southern California, on the big-screen TV.
"This whole thing is a real shocker," Maytham said. "It was just one of those wrong place, wrong time stories."
A Colorado native, Kitching was a semi-retired radiologist practicing in southern California, and for the past several years was a part-time resident at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale with his longtime companion, Lani (Young) Kitching. According to a wedding announcement that appeared in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, they were officially married on Jan. 8, 2008.
According to River Valley Ranch neighbors Bill Spence and his wife, Sue Edelstein, the Kitchings had planned to retire full time to Carbondale later this year.
"They maintained jobs that had them out of the valley a lot, but we had gotten to know him and Lani as they began coming here more frequently," Edelstein said. "It's a real loss. They had greatly looked forward to being here full time.
"He was an open and sharing guy who always seemed to have time for people," she said.
Added Spence, "Gary just loved the outdoors, and he often went out on the river just by himself, and would do these extraordinary hikes. He just loved the mountains."
In addition to fly-fishing and backpacking, Kitching also enjoyed skiing, tennis and golf.
"He was really excited to learn the new strokes we were teaching," said River Valley Ranch Tennis Pro Josh Passchier, who said he had given Kitching some private lessons and that he has participated in the Saturday men's clinics over the summer.
"He was super nice, and always asking about my family and talking about his family and his kids," Passchier said. "He loved being outside, and he loved tennis and where his game was going."