Compassion to the last breath | VailDaily.com
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Compassion to the last breath

Geraldine Haldner
Jon and Lisa Efraimson and their dog Badger sit in their livingroom.
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Regular updates he wrote about his battle with lung cancer since he was diagnosed last summer were preceded by two pages of e-mail addresses.

Two pages. Name after name.

Friends, family members, colleagues, employees, professional acquaintances, anyone whose life he touched he included in his circle of compassion.



The list grew from dispatch to dispatch, a living roll-call of Efraimson’s celebration of life and love.

His letters never complained and never lied. He didn’t deny the seriousness of medical facts but savored small victories, and shared his thoughts on newfound beliefs and his trusted faith in God.



He would always put people’s concerns at ease before writing about his own fears. Often he would write about how rich he was for having caring friends and a caring wife whom he described as a friend, a blessing, a soulmate and the love of his life.

“Even though things have gotten tougher, I’m up for the fight,” he wrote in his second-to-last e-mail Feb. 2. “I’m grateful for the life that I’ve lived so far and continue to live. I’m so lucky to have Lisa, and so lucky to have so many kind and caring people in my life.”

Long list of friends



Efraimson, 36, died Tuesday evening of pneumonia, a complication of battling lung cancer for eight months. He leaves behind: his wife, Lisa; his loyal canine companion, Badger; his father, Carl Efraimson of Colorado Springs; sisters Carla, also of Colorado Springs, and Danielle, who resides in Minnesota; and too many friends to mention.

“When we were sitting around last night trying to figure out who we needed to call. We realized that it was a pretty lengthy list,” said John Dakin, an office neighbor and a friend of John Efraimson, a founding partner in EEF Productions, a local video production company.

Dakin said he is numb, unsure if the news of Efraimson’s death had really sunk in.

“We are lucky to have a handful of friends,” Dakin said. “My hand and the hand of so many here is a little emptier now.”

Efraimson’s touch, say those who know him, made him special throughout his 14-years in the Vail Valley.

“I heard the news yesterday and it really shook me up, because he was just such a warm person and he touched so many people’s lives,” said Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi, who first met Eef six years ago. “He motivated people to be a better by simply being a good person himself.”

Almost anyone who knew Efraimson will mention the Nov. 9 fund-raiser held to support him in his battle with cancer – perhaps another indication friendship was a central theme in his life.

“Close to 700 people came in a blizzard with it snowing sideways,” says event organizer Kate Carey of the Vail Charitable Fund.

Menconi said he remembers the evening “as the most powerful event I’ve ever been to.”

“You couldn’t get in it was so packed, and I think secretly in the back of their minds each one of us asked, “Am I making this kind of a difference in the community?'”

“Enormous amount of integrity’

Hayden Scott, Efraimson’s partner in business for the past eight years and a personal friend, said Efraimson attracted people to him because of the way he was brought up.

Adopted by a missionary couple, Scott said, Efraimson “grew up with an enormous amount of integrity. He always carried himself with great honesty and kindness.”

Scott said he remembers as many tense arguments as moments of doubled-over laughter with Efraimson. And then there are the moments he will keep in his mind as favorite memories. He spoke of a contract early in their career as film producers shooting a heli-skiing video.

“We got into the helicopter – it was one just for the film crew – and our eyes just caught and we looked at each other with these enormous grins on our faces,” Scott said. “We were finally getting to be where we wanted to be.”

Eight years later, EEF Productions is synonymous with visual documentation of large and small events in Eagle and Summit counties, as well as many other resort communities.

In accordance with Efraimson’s wishes, Scott says, the company will continue with Efraimson’s nickname as its name.

“We had a lot of time to talk about things during the last couple of months,” Scott says. “He wanted people to understand that EEF Productions would go on.”

Leaving a legacy

Efraimson’s legacy is as wide as his list of friends is long, and his philosophy of life will remain meaningful for those who knew him.

“He has been just so optimistic about the whole cancer thing; makes me feel pretty stupid when I get hung up on stuff,” said Pavan Krueger, a close personal friend. “He just brought the whole valley together as a whole. I met a lot of people just through him. He had just a lot of friends.”

Indeed, Efraimson had a knack to turn professional relationships into personal ones.

“His enormous sense of caring, soft-spoken charm and humble appreciation made me proud to call him my friend,” said Kelly Ladyga, director of corporate communications for Vail Resorts, who met Efraimson through work. “The way he lived his life and loved – until the very end – has inspired all us at Vail Resorts who knew him to be better people.”

When asked what made Efraimson special, Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation, another client of EEF Productions, didn’t miss a beat making the question sound silly.

“Eef made life special,” she said of the friend she met in a compromising get-up.

“I first met Eef while he was lip-synching at the Great Race in the “80s. He was wearing a dress and he was unbelievably funny,” she said with a laugh.

“He made everybody feel important in his life,” she added. “He made you feel that your ideas and your thoughts and your opinions were really important to him.”

While losing a friend like Efraimson is tough, Folz said she is comforted by the fact that Efraimson’s vision will live on – tied to the Vail Valley’s past forever.

“Eef loved life, and he loved this valley,” Folz said. “He was the documentarian of this valley for the last 20 years. When any of us look at a retrospective of Vail, it will be through Eef’s eyes.

“Long after we are all gone, his vision of Vail will live on.”

A memorial service for Jon “Eef’ Efraimson is scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek.

In lieu of flowers, a fund has been set up an account at FirstBank in Vail. Donations can be made at any FirstBank branch under Jon “Eef” Efraimson’s name.

In accordance with Efraimson’s wishes, proceeds will go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, as well as a new Vail Valley foundation to support local residents with cancer.

A memorial service for Jon “Eef’ Efraimson is scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek.

In lieu of flowers, a fund has been set up an account at FirstBank in Vail. Donations can be made at any FirstBank branch under Jon “Eef” Efraimson’s name.

In accordance with Efraimson’s wishes, proceeds will go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, as well as a new Vail Valley foundation to support local residents with cancer.

Geraldine Haldner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 602, or at ghaldner@vaildaily.com.


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