In the past ten years or so, if you had a yurt, tipi or tent delivered, you might have met Lonnie. He did most of our deliveries for many years, and would have made a distinct impression. He was a short, skinny guy- usually wearing a trucker hat, zip-up sweatshirt and a well-worn pair of jeans. He would have talked proudly of our company, and been very friendly and quick with a joke.
Lonnie was a Colorado native, mobile mechanic, former truck driver, former short order cook, story teller and definite character. He started doing work for Colorado Yurt Company when his wife, Lee, joined our staff over 16 years ago. We needed someone to drive a few yurts to some customers, and Lee said “I have just the guy.”
After that, Lonnie became our go-to guy for deliveries. He also kept our forklift running, made sure the trucks had tires and oil changes, cleaned up the parking lot and even drove by on the weekends to make sure things were quiet.
First impressions are often not accurate. My first impression was that Lonnie was a gruff and grumpy guy. Then, I noticed how he treated Arlo (a golden retriever who used to hang out in our office). Arlo liked most people, but he LOVED Lonnie. Arlo was a great judge of character.
After I got to know Lonnie, I came to realize that he was a softie. If Lonnie was your friend, he’d do anything for you (actually, even if you weren’t his friend). He loved animals, loved his wife, gave generously of his time and was a dependable, hard-working man.
For ten years, I painted tipis on the weekends, and Lonnie usually visited on Saturday afternoons (Lee threw him out so she could clean the house). He’d come in the door, shout “How you doin’ Miss Ivy?”. He’d stay for a half hour or so, sharing a great story or two. I was disappointed if I went a whole weekend without a conversation with Lon.
He was a colorful character with a vocabulary to match. He declared a local auto parts shop “as worthless as teats on a boar hog” (he was correct). He became a friend to many of us: taking Dan and Emma’s son fishing when he was just a boy, rescuing co-workers from Rock Jam when their car wouldn’t start, driving cross-country to help a nephew whose car broke down, picking people up at the airport, taking in stray cats, fixing things that needed to be fixed, dog-sitting and so much more.
The past few years had been tough for Lonnie. He had a history of heart problems, and unfortunately the heart disease became chronic. This past summer, it got even worse. On September 9, our friend Lonnie passed away. We were not shocked that his heart finally gave out. Nevertheless, we were not prepared for him to be gone. Despite his small stature, he was a large presence, and our world is a little less colorful with his passing.
We will miss you, friend.