Last Sunday, halfway across the world, a helicopter crash cast an overwhelming darkness over Colorado.
Kyle Forti, a well-known and much-loved member of the state’s political community, died along with four Americans and their pilot.
I knew Kyle, but not well. As fellow conservative political activists and operatives, we’d worked together peripherally on a few campaigns, I’d answered a few of his election law questions, and we’d had the chance to share a few drinks at various political functions.
I did not have the opportunity to spend significant time with him. Or rather, I didn’t make the effort to do so because I believed I’d have time in the future, a decision I’m sure I will forever regret.
That lack of familiarity, though, may make me the perfect scribe for his virtues because Kyle didn’t get to spend much time with anyone to leave an indelible mark.
Everyone I ever saw within a 10-foot radius of him seemed drawn to his charisma and kindness, even absent a one-on-one conversation. I can’t imagine there are words descriptive enough to capture how people who shared deep, intimate relationships with Kyle felt about him.
Always impeccably dressed and without a hair out of place, the most notable fashion accessory Kyle wore was an irrepressible smile.
Kyle could win or lose and would have the same mega-watt smile for friends and foes alike. It made him immensely popular on both sides of the partisan aisle, a trait nearly bereft in the current political climate.
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Combined with an inquisitive nature and a powerful intellect, his ebullient personality would have made Kyle a success in any field he chose to pursue.
He could have led a Fortune 500 company or captained a tech-startup to a dizzying trajectory. But he chose a life of public service and politics. In our short time together, I understood his choice arose from a compelling dedication to his country and an even greater love of people.
Beyond those traits, it occurred to me that Kyle did not constantly bemoan a desire for a better world, but rather saw the beauty in the world around him as it existed.
It seemed to me that he believed we already had all the answers to our most pressing questions, we just needed to apply them. Given more time, I have no doubt he would have persuaded more of our public officials to do just that.
While Kyle was known for his political work, those who knew him best knew him as a husband, a father, a foster parent and a man who filled his life with adventure and wonder.
I did not get to see that side of Kyle in person, but I saw it through his frequent, thoughtful social media posts. Marked by his telling insights on everything from movies to social justice, he absolutely filled his timeline with pictures and stories about his wife, Hope, whom he adored, and his son, Maximus as Kyle would call him, whom he loved without limit.
Kyle had so much love to give that he and Hope also fostered several children and planned to open their home to a teen parent after he returned from Africa.
What is more, Kyle found a way to weave the most important things in his life together. I laughed aloud through heartache when I read in Hope’s memorial tribute that his “biggest goal was to be a stay-at-home dad — maybe start a boys’ fashion/adventure blog.” Four things he loved — business, fashion, adventure, and, most of all, his son — wrapped up together in one joyful bundle.
Kyle didn’t have the time to make that dream come true, but he made sure others did. Just in the last few months he conquered China with Max and climbed through Patagonia with Hope.
And he traveled to Kenya with his childhood friends. Kyle’s last Facebook post was a picture of zebras on the African plains. I saw it before I knew about his passing and sighed with a bit of jealousy. And then I promptly Googled “Kenya tours;” a testament to the inspirational effect he had on me and countless others.
One translation of my favorite biblical scripture reads, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5). Kyle Forti’s life shone brightly and will continue to shine in all the hearts he touched in his short time among us.
For those who wish to make a gift to the Forti family in Kyle’s name, you may do so through this GoFundMe page or via Foster Together Colorado, an organization Hope founded and Kyle supported to help support foster families.
Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq
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