Former Durango resident Joseph Kitchin Philpott died in an avalanche Saturday, March 2, 2013, on Cameron Pass, near Fort Collins. He was one month shy of his 27th birthday.
Known as “Joe,” he was born to George and Margaret Philpott on March 29, 1986, in Durango and grew up here. He graduated from Durango High School in 2004.
With a passion for the outdoors, Mr. Philpott worked as a smoke jumper with the Great Basin Smoke Jumpers out of Boise, Idaho. He had spent the past three years fighting fires all over the West with them, and for the three years prior to that, he was a member of a Hot Shot wildland fire crew.
Mr. Philpott attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, where he was working on his forestry degree.
“‘Live’ is exactly what Joseph did every day of his life, and love is what he filled it with,” his family said. “Joe was always up for an adventure big or small. Joe was an avid backcountry skier, incredible surfer, mountain biker, paraglider, but he could be just as content and full spending a day drinking beer with friends and his brothers or wrestling with ‘Moose,’ the endearing nickname he gave to his nephew Mason. He had the depth and wisdom at 26 a man might only get in a lifetime, which was reflected in his brilliant paintings, his insightful poetry and his finger pickin’ banjo tunes.”
Mr. Philpott had a wide circle of friends and family.
“When Joe’s smoke jumper crew boss was notified of the accident and asked for the phone number of his best smoke jumper friend to spread the word,” his family said, “the crew boss responded, ‘Well, that might be hard, you’ll have to call about 80 people. Everyone was Joe’s best friend.’”
Mr. Philpott had developed his own sayings and wisdom they will remember, his family said.
Some of the adages included: “Dance everywhere; Don’t make plans, just show up; Love and laughter is all you need; and Fly kites anywhere and everywhere, especially at the top of a mountain.”
Mr. Philpott is survived by his parents, George and Margaret Philpott, of Durango; siblings Jim Philpott of Denver, Michael Philpott of Salmon, Idaho, and Livy Sparks of Atsugi, Japan; the woman his family called “the love of his life,” Kylie Nulty, of Fort Collins; and two nephews and a niece.
A celebration of life will be held at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9, 2013, at the Smiley Building, 1309 East Third Ave, in Durango.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Joseph Philpott Memorial Fund, c/o Vectra Bank, 890 Camino del Rio, Durango, CO 81301.
Condolences may be sent to George and Margaret Philpott, 661 Sortais Road, Durango, CO 81301.