The Zen spirit of Stuart Rippy will live on, as plans are in the works to relocate the memorial Sound Garden that had been part of the Glenwood Springs Community Center grounds until recently to the new Two Rivers Community School in West Glenwood.
“I’m very happy with that, because it’s close to where we live, and it’s possible we could have grandkids going to school there at some point,” said Marilee Rippy, the mother of Stuart Rippy.
Stuart died unexpectedly as a result of a seizure 12 years ago while home from college for Christmas. He was the son of Marilee and Gregg Rippy, who at the time was the area’s representative in the Colorado House of Representatives.
The Sound Garden, a xeriscaped garden area equipped with a metal xylophone, tubular pipes and conga drums, was built on the east side of the Glenwood Springs Community Center and dedicated to Stuart’s memory in 2006.
It was dismantled last month to make way for the new locker and restroom facilities that will be part of the adjacent ice rink.
That left the city’s recreation director, Tom Barnes, and Marilee Rippy scrambling to find a new location for the various components of the Sound Garden.
Barnes initially contacted Glenwood Springs Elementary School about relocating the musical components there. What he didn’t know, however, was that Rippy actually owned those elements.
Rippy said she knew the day would eventually come when the Sound Garden would have to be moved to make way for expansion of the community center facilities.
“We thought about other locations on the site or elsewhere in town, or even selling them and putting the money back into the Stuart Rippy Memorial Fund,” which awards scholarships to Glenwood Springs High School graduates each year.
Then she contacted the governing board of the new Two Rivers Community School (TRCS), which was chartered by the Colorado Charter School Institute last year and is renovating the former mail processing center in West Glenwood to open in August as a public charter elementary and middle school.
“The fact that they jumped on the idea so quickly and wanted to keep the Sound Garden pieces together in one location made it the natural choice,” Rippy said.
Manette Anderson, who sits on the TRCS board, called it a “fabulous location” for the Sound Garden to find a new home.
“The whole idea for our school is to be community-oriented, and this one of first efforts where a community member reached out to us,” Anderson said. “It’s something the students can enjoy, and will be a part of their outdoor education experience.”
And, “Stuart was such a fine young man,” added Anderson, who is friends with the Rippy family and knew Stuart when he was growing up in Glenwood Springs.
“It’s a way of passing his legacy on to a new generation of kids who can appreciate that,” she said.
In addition to the musical components, several of the large boulders and flagstones that were part of the community center Sound Garden will also be included at the new location, Rippy said.
She also is working to locate either the existing pergola, or maybe a new one, to serve as the entryway into the garden. She would like to etch the words “carpe diem” (seize the day) onto the main beam.
Those were the words Stuart had on his cell phone display when he died, she recalled.
“I’m trying to be very Zen about all this, which is how Stuart was,” she said. “Everything changes, and this was just another one of those ‘hmm’ moments.”
Thanks to city parks superintendent Al Laurette and his crew, Rippy said the many trees that were part of original Sound Garden have been relocated elsewhere on the community center grounds.
Some of the perennial plants that were there have also been replanted at the Cardiff Glen community garden in south Glenwood.
Barnes said it was unfortunate that the original Sound Garden had to be removed, but he’s glad it will find a new home.
“Nobody likes to have to take things like this apart, but if you’re able to do it and expand the legacy, that’s how I prefer to do it,” he said.
The original idea for the Sound Garden was planted by members of Glenwood Springs Boy Scout Troop 225 after a camping trip to Moab. The boys saw the sound garden there and applied for a grant from the Two Rivers Community Foundation to assist in making it their Eagle Scout project.
“I’m trying to be very Zen about all this, which is how Stuart was. Everything changes, and this was just another one of those ‘hmm’ moments.”