In Memory Of John Bramley
By: Stephanie Bramley
A run up Twin Sisters? Warm-up for Longs Peak. The record-setting (and 31-year record-holding) race up Mt Evans? A warm-up for the 1980 Olympic Trials Marathon. If one happened to be lucky enough to spot John Bramley, ‘The Animal,’ in the wild, “doing his thing,” they would encounter a man in simple clothes, simple shoes (though usually Nike), simply hiking and running in the mountains and on the trails he loved. And if he knew I was writing this about him now, he would smile slightly, nod his head slowly, and comment, “Well, yeah, that was me,” in a manner of true humility and unassuming nature.
Dad worked for the airline industry for almost thirty years, happily serving and attending people on their trips near and far. As people observed at his memorial service on September 17th in Littleton, “John never met a stranger”-people became friends right away with Dad. So as I write this, I know people may read this who met my dad on an airplane flight out of Denver, up the trail to Longs Peak, working at the Inn in the summer of ’79, running on his cross-country team at CSU from 1972-1977, or in another places where he traveled, experienced and enjoyed. I know he touched the people he met; whether it was the cleaning woman on the airplane to whom my dad gave attention and care, or the old friend he kept in touch with and visited, or the family member who received a birthday call every year. John Bramley lived and died in this world in a unique way; one that was matchless, perfect and true to himself and others. I will always look at my dad and his life as one of the best gift ever given me, and strive to live my life honoring the things, ways and people he valued.
It is still a mystery to me how my dad fell on Longs Peak; one that I will most likely never be able to solve. But what is not a mystery to me, and shines very clearly, was his love for Estes Park, our family cabin, our family, and “his” peak—Longs. From Denver, Dad would point it out in the north-western corner of the Front Range. Once in Estes, he would direct our attention to its stunning north face staring down on the town. Growing up coming to Estes Park to visit the family cabin, my dad felt as, if not more, at home there than anywhere else in the world. He passed this tradition along to us, his three daughters, as he would take us up often for a ride on the go-carts at Ride-A-Kart Amusement Rides, for a cozy fire, to escape from the heat of the city, or for an occasional “accidental” hike up Green Mountain (or fondly known as ‘Emerald’ on the YMCA grounds).
Visiting recently with my sisters, and doing many of the pastimes we enjoyed with my dad (though this time all the while missing him), we were reminded that his spirit still lives on in Estes Park, and in us. And every time we look up to see Longs face staring down, we will be reminded of our dad gazing down too, flying free, and delighting in all the ways we, his three daughters, are living our lives as freely, wildly, passionately, persistently, and lovingly as he lived his. You may have never met my dad. Or you may have known him very well. Either way, may this article be a tribute to a life well lived, a mountain well loved, and a legacy forever lasting.
We love you, Dad, and know you are always with us.