A number of IPF supporters have made gifts in memory of Heather Hopton, a long-time Board member and dedicated environmentalist. When Heather passed away October 24, 2004, her husband, Charles Hopton, kindly designated IPF, along with the Aspen Wilderness Workshop, to receive gifts in Heather's name.
Heather loved most the IPF-sponsored snow-fence removal project to which she applied her boundless energy. Her passion to protect the fragile alpine tundra inspired her to help organize a group of local volunteers to hike the ridge along the Pass summit, unbolting and removing large sections of angle metal responsible for smothering precious tundra. She was at home in her element—the mountain environment she so deeply loved.
Although Heather was not large in physique, her heart, spirit, and determination added a broader dimension to all of our efforts. She left a void on our Board and in our hearts.
A gift to the Independence Pass Foundation is a thoughtful way to honor or remember loved ones and friends while supporting our work. Independence Pass is one of the most spectacular places in the Rocky Mountain West as well as one of the Roaring Fork Valley's scenic, historic, and recreational treasures. So many people—from Aspen locals to international visitors—enjoy this extraordinary mountain corridor. It is a place of great natural beauty and ecological value where people can go to find renewal.
Executive Director Mark Fuller photographed Bob Lewis on his beloved Independence Pass in the summer of 2004.
Robert Lewis (1921-2005)
Many people have made donations to IPF in memory of our founder and visionary environmentalist Bob Lewis, who died July 27, 2005. In addition to establishing IPF, Bob founded and was instrumental in launching several Aspen institutions, including the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Wildwood School, the Braille Trail, and the Aspen Field Biological Laboratory. IPF Executive Director Mark Fuller wrote the following Letter to the Editor of The Aspen Times in tribute to Bob and his lifetime of contributions.
In the two months since his death, much has been written about Bob Lewis' legacy to this valley that he loved so much. This Saturday, October 1, Bob's friends and family will gather at Paepcke Auditorium to honor Bob's memory and to share remembrances of his life and times. The staff and Board of the Independence Pass Foundation would like to take this opportunity to express our deep appreciation for the work Bob did on Independence Pass and our profound sorrow at his passing.
It is safe to say that none of us would be doing what we are doing without Bob's leadership, unshakeable determination, and unquenchable energy. When Bob formed the Independence Pass Restoration Team in the late 80's he infected all of us who participated with his enthusiasm for the job at hand. That job, the restoration of the degraded road cuts and denuded slopes on Independence Pass, has been an overwhelming one, but Bob's perseverance and his refusal to take no for an answer has brought us to a point where we can actually envision the completion of the work that Bob started.
Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium)
For the first few years after the Foundation started its work, Bob was its director, archivist, fundraiser, planner and field supervisor. It was he who began the traditions that have become the Foundation's core, including the planting projects by local schoolchildren, the annual Ride for the Pass, the use of inmate labor from the Buena Vista Correctional Facility, and the meetings of the Restoration Team which cemented the many alliances that Bob built between the Foundation and local, state, and federal agencies. After Bob retired from day-to-day direction of the Foundation (at the age of 75!), he remained an active Board member who always pushed us to expand our mission, accelerate our timetable, and enroll others in our cause. He was more than our founder--he was our spirit, our conscience, our engine.
The work that Bob started will go on and indeed, it continues today as we start yet another major stabilization project on the Top Cut. This work will be an enduring monument to Bob's vision, one which will remind us of how much one man can accomplish with every trip we make over the Pass.
The Board & Staff of the Independence Pass Foundation
"The work that Bob started will go on... an enduring monument to Bob's vision, one which will remind us of how much one man can accomplish with every trip we make over the Pass."