Family celebrates life of Angus Graham with breakfast offerings on opening day
Between his infectious personality, colorful costumes and the hearty smell of breakfast, there was no way to miss Angus Graham. Ever since he moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in 2008 to become a full-time potter, Graham’s presence on opening day had been a highlight.
He would set up shop near the Aspen Mountain gondola, pull out his camp stove and cook his mother’s famous eggs in a basket — a fried egg cooked in the missing center of a piece of bread — and hand them out to those patiently waiting in line.
Thursday, the first opening day without Graham in nearly a decade, was much the same, thanks to his sister, Kate Graham, and brother-in-law, Hardy Wallace, who wanted to carry on the tradition in his honor.
“For us to be connected to what he loved means so much and to be part of this community now feels really special,” Kate Graham said. “Right after he died my husband and I were talking about ways we could honor him and celebrate his life and I was thinking about things he loves and opening day at Aspen Mountain is definitely one of those things.”
Angus Graham, then 35, died on Aug. 25 in a car crash in southwest Oregon when his car rolled off a steep embankment near the town of Glendale. Kate Graham and Wallace, who live in Napa, California, came to Aspen for the Thanksgiving holiday in large part for the chance to celebrate Angus.
Before Aspen Mountain opened for the season Thursday, they did exactly as he would have. In costume, they fired up the stove and handed out eggs in a basket, among other delectable breakfast treats, determined to “live like Angus.”
“To be able to come out and celebrate his spirit and his life with so many of his friends and people on the mountain and keep something he felt so dear alive is incredible,” Wallace said. “He was constantly in contact with all of us. It’s really hard in so many ways, but the most beautiful part is that we got to share him in our lives and share him with the world.”
On top of his artwork, where he closely associated with noted valley artist Alleghany Meadows, Angus Graham was a well-liked ski instructor who could be found on all four of Aspen Skiing Co.’s mountains. He also had close ties with noted yogi and spiritual leader Rod Stryker.
Angus Graham’s friends, many clad in costumes, gathered Thursday morning a few hours before the gondola opened and spoke fondly of their friend. A crew at the front of the line included Snowmass local James Harvey, who used his snowboard as a saber to open a bottle of champagne in Graham’s honor.
“Angus had the ability to cross worlds,” Kate Graham said. “We think a lot about those three circles of his life and they intersected in a way I think is really special. A lot of people don’t necessarily live that way. We talk a lot about living like Angus and what that means. It’s really about being true to yourself and true to your community and living with a whole lot of love and spirit and passion.”
While Kate Graham and Wallace aren’t as intense about their love of skiing as Angus — Kate called herself more of a “lodge and hot chocolate” sort of person — they hope Angus’ passion will be carried on through their 16-month-old daughter, Maple.
“Hopefully we get her in skis next year. I was thinking about it tomorrow, but she can barely walk, so it might be a little too early,” Wallace said with a laugh. “We want to make sure this stays a huge part of our life, but also for our daughter, Maple, who Angus loved dearly. We want to make sure she is able, through the rest of her life, to have Aspen as part of her heart and soul.”
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