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Opinion

Remembering Seth Bossung: A master at building relationships that matter

He was an architect, aficionado of fine design and an athlete, but friends remember Seth Bossung, one of three men killed in a Feb. 1 avalanche near Silverton, as a dedicated husband and father who fostered deep connections with friends

Seth Bossung (Dave Manzella, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Ask anyone who would best know and pay tribute to our friend Seth Bossung, 52, and they would say Adam Palmer. But their spirits are laughing and cavorting together in eternity now, so here we are, a collection of friends whose lives were touched — and forever changed — by Seth and his family. 

Seth Bossung died last week in an avalanche in Southern Colorado’s San Juans while on a hut trip with his beloved backcountry buddies, leaving his wife and children, extended family and an expansive circle of friends reeling.

The Colorado Sun invited close friends to memorialize Andy Jessen, Adam Palmer and Seth Bossung, three influential Eagle County men who were killed Feb. 1, 2021, in a massive avalanche near Silverton. Read all of the remembrances here.

This is Pavan Krueger. Seth started working with me at Morter Architects in 2005, and it was immediately apparent that he had a different sort of curiosity and passion for architecture. He was there to make beautiful things, and the paycheck was a nice perk. 

He spent an inordinate amount of time poring over little details — or moments, as he would call them — not allowing any small element to go unnoticed. He created beautiful sketches on yellow trace paper with markers and colored pencils. When a group would gather and discuss how to detail something, he would stroke his chin, say, “Hmmm, what if we did something like this?” and whip out a pen to sketch a perfectly-thought-through detail. 

Seth’s only Achilles heel at work was getting his time sheet done. He was wonderfully unburdened with the pesky business side of things. 

We started a mountain bike team at work, racing together in the Vail town series and doing lunchtime “site visit” rides on the North Trail. While most of us would slog along, Seth would virtually bounce up the trail on his purple single speed, which he dubbed “The Rig.” Dancing on the pedals, he made everything appear effortless.

He had a love for bikes of all types, and had a shed full of vintage rides in various states of build. He was particularly excited about a classic road racing bike he built for Fae, his daughter, when she was a youngster.

Seth’s enthusiasm was contagious. As a coach and friend, he sparked something in our son, Hayden, giving him the adventure wanderlust. “Seth is the guy I want to be,” Hayden said. High praise from a 16-year-old. Seth motivated people of every age to get off the couch and go outside.

As much as Seth was dedicated to his craft and finding beauty in all things, his deepest love and focus was his family. Seth and Cindy spent much of their time homeschooling their kids, Fae and Lowa, making sure they learned the violin, art, climbing, skiing, biking, and most importantly, getting out in nature and finding delight. 

It was as if their family was a small community, complete with school, restaurant, music hall, bike shop and hostel. It seemed important to them to raise kids who wouldn’t necessarily be the best at anything, but rather who would enjoy many things, and be kind people. 

This is Karl Krueger. I got to know Seth through Pavan, my wife, and the great collection of people at Jim Morter’s architecture office.

We were both coaches for our kids in the Buddy Werner race league at Beaver Creek. 

Never without a backpack, Seth didn’t mind carrying kids’ lunches because he knew it would free us up to follow the whims of the group. He always kept a sleek thermos of hot tea at the ready. We would fall into the role of “Italian ski coaches” on the lift rides up Beaver Creek’s Rose Bowl, delighting ourselves and our motley crew of “racers” with Italian accents and running commentary on the last run’s close calls, yard sales and airtime. 

Seth and I considered ourselves co-captains of fun and experimentation. Literally the best coaching I did was saying “follow right behind Seth and do what he does.”

Seth had an appreciation for well-designed things — from his collection of bikes (and pieces of bikes) to his automobiles (a rusted but trusty Volkswagen Vanagon and an old BMW). I’m almost sure he had his eye on an Alfa Romeo, as well. 

Even his collection of ski gear revealed that, for Seth, it has never been about the newest thing. He was after the performance of, and the art of, the well-designed object and occasionally the inexplicably iconic, patinated piece — just for the sake of art.

Seth Bossung. (Dave Manzella, Special to The Colorado Sun)

This is Pavan. Oh, the rumble of the old BMW 2002 was always a welcome sound in our  neighborhood. Seth would swing by randomly for a chat and a cup of coffee. And when he did, you always dropped everything, because it would be a guaranteed good conversation. Not superficial, but digging into what was on his mind. He seemed to understand that in the end, it is not the work you do or the money you make but rather the relationships you nurture that matter. 

In Seth’s own words: “As a designer, I am constantly intrigued by the role in which design enhances (or detracts from) our experiences as humans. We are aesthetic beings, and I believe good design has a role to play in enhancing the way we experience life. This extends far beyond architecture — a well-designed door, a thoughtfully placed window, a perfectly weighted coffee cup — it is my belief that these details matter.”

Karl here. Oh yes, he always made time for a slow espresso, which could be maddening for those of us who are in the habit of speeding through life. 

I was glad when he relieved me of my classic red Colnago road bike with period Campagnolo components because it meant that, at least at one point, I had chosen a thing he would have chosen himself. It also meant the bike would be honored with space in his mind and space in his “collection.”

This is Dave Manzella. I’ve got some thoughts on what I call my 20-year bromance with Seth. 

Seth was my best friend. I know I am not the only one who is saying that this week. Since Tuesday, I have spoken with at least three of Seth’s close friends that held him at the rank of No. 1. When Seth’s dad, Harold, learned of the accident, his response was the same. We are all correct. Being someone’s best friend has surprisingly little to do with you. When you say someone is your best friend, it means they are a good friend to you and hopefully you reciprocate the love and support you feel from them.  

Our wives, Cindy and Brynn, set us up on blind date back in 2001. They seemed to think we might have a few things in common. We met for a nighttime skin up Arrowhead. I told him I’d be the guy in the white Westfalia with the brown dog. He said, “Me too.” 

We showed up in matching vintage Volkswagens and with dogs that became fast friends as well. As we made what would be the first of many ascents together, we fell into what would become a 20-year conversation: best places to live, and the perfect car quiver. As the years passed and this conversation continued, we evolved from the quiver consisting of vintage VWs, Volvos, and BMWs, to hybrids, EVs or simply no car at all. We also discovered that the perfect place to live doesn’t exist. It’s how you live in a place that matters. 

I think Seth was a lot of people’s best friend. He was really good at it. He answered his phone whenever possible even if it was just to say he needed to call you back. He called to just check in and share in the trials of daily life. “Cheers, big ears,” he’d say as he hung up.

Seth Bossung (Dave Manzella, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Seth was generous with his time. He went out of his way to meet up for a quick ski, a weekend of bluegrass or a shed-building project, often putting aside his own priorities. He often over-promised and showed up late, but he always showed up. He lived in the moment and taught many to do the same, or at least to bask in the Seth vibe for a bit.

He was the playful uncle, often getting the kids riled up just before bedtime. He was incredibly optimistic but could be real and vulnerable. He was thoughtful with his words and his actions. He was a visionary, for his life, the life of his family and for his community; seeing the more beautiful world he knew was possible. 

Pavan here. When he was building his own architecture business, which he named Intention Architecture, he also did energy audits around the valley. He continued that over the years — he enjoyed the science of it — and it gave him the chance to leave his tiny studio and see people. 

He may have been the most over-qualified energy auditor ever, but it was his jam. Seth relished his recent new role working with Adam Palmer and John Gitchell at Eagle County. He said that  it lit a new fire in him to be working in sustainability and energy efficiency, and to be working with like minds and great friends again.  

Dave here. Yeah, Seth was such a good listener and accepted his friends how they showed up and made them believe they were always capable of more. He made you feel human and worthy of his love and attention. And, wow, he was an amazing husband and dad and modeled how to love unconditionally.  

There is a huge hole in my life now. I have lost my best friend. Many of us have. Instead of seeking to fill my No. 1 spot, I am going to be the friend to others that he was to me. I will be imperfect but so was Seth and that’s what I loved about him. He was the real deal.

Learn more about Seth, Cindy, Fae and Lowa Bossung at their GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/cindy-and-seth-bossung

Pavan and Karl Krueger are owners of their own architecture firms in the Eagle River Valley, where they are raising teenage sons. Dave Manzella is a dad of three, an educator, farmer, and mountain lover who spent many years in Eagle County but now rambles around Northern Colorado.


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