Julie Bergsten lived life with passion
If you go:
What: A celebration of life for Julie Bergsten, with a reception to follow.
When: Saturday, March 4, 3 p.m.
Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek.
Also: An education fund has been established for Julie and Jonny Bergsten’s three children. To learn more, go to http://www.gofundme.com/9qtvu-bergsten-children-education-fund.
EAGLE COUNTY — Friends come and go throughout our lives. If Julie Bergsten was your friend, then you had a friend for life.
Julie Bergsten died suddenly Feb. 20. Her family and friends are still processing the loss. And this loss is a big one.
“She impacted so many people in her life,” longtime friend Kiendra Fleck said. “There was just an amazing otherness to her.”
Fleck and Julie Bergsten came to Vail together in the early 1990s. The two recent University of Washington graduates were looking to open a coffee shop, but weren’t sure where. The pair picked Vail out of a phone book, flew into Denver and drove to Vail that night. After a weekend meeting with the first real estate company they found — Slifer Smith & Frampton, which will become important here — the pair signed a lease on newly renovated space in the Covered Bridge Building in Vail Village and left their meeting with a new nickname — the Coffee Girls.
That deal created Covered Bridge Coffee, which had a seven-year run in town.
The partners at one point had 16 people working for them, but needed to improvise even during the successful times.
“We’d use the latte machine to steam eggs for breakfast sandwiches,” Fleck said.
The shop also had a little private space.
“She was one of the funniest people,” Fleck said. “We laughed all the time. We had to put up a curtain at the coffee shop so we could go back there.”
Lives change, friendship doesn’t
Covered Bridge Coffee had a good run, but lives change. Fleck and Julie Bergsten introduced each other to their future husbands. Fleck and her husband, Scott, eventually moved to Hawaii, moving back to Eagle for a few years while The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa was being finished and opened. The Flecks spent those years in Eagle, a block away from the Bergstens’ home.
That friendship endured, whether Fleck and Bergsten were close or distant, with plenty of phone calls and shared family vacations.
In Eagle, Julie Bergsten and her husband, Jonny, started a family, and Julie soon found another group of fast friends. Those six moms included the members of a “mom band,” the Mombas. Julie Bergsten was the drummer and singer.
Like the friendship with the Flecks, the Bergstens and their Eagle group shared plenty of holidays, vacations and other adventures together.
“All our kids have grown up together,” friend Jen Bradbury said.
And those adventures weren’t always easy.
Julie and Jonny started climbing and canyoneering while they were still dating. Some of those adventures brought a bit more excitement than expected.
There was a time Jonny and Julie were caught in a summer lightning storm in Vail’s Back Bowls. They ran for cover, eventually hiding out in a lift shack.
“I probably always pushed the envelope,” Jonny Bergsten said.
The adventure of family
Having three children — twins Eva and Emma, now 10, and Lukas, now 13 — is an adventure in itself. Taking those kids on outdoor adventures adds to the rush.
On a canyoneering trip to Zion National Park, the Bergstens were deep in the canyon country, three kids in tow, all dressed in wetsuits and trying to dance the cold away.
“It was exciting, and a little scary,” Jonny Bergsten said.
Those adventures and fun with family and friends are where Julie Bergsten really lived her life, but Slifer Smith & Frampton Managing Partner Jim Flaum said she was also a “consummate professional.”
After Julie Bergsten and Fleck sold the coffee shop, Julie Bergsten applied for a job as the assistant and marketing coordinator for a new project at the Summit at Cordillera. Flaum recommended her based in large part on the fact she and Fleck owned a business together for seven years and had remained friends.
“That’s who you want,” Flaum said. “She was a superstar.”
That star power lasted. A few years later, when Flaum was looking for a vice president of operations and finance, he called Cordillera listing broker John Calhoun with some bad news: he wanted Bergsten for the job.
“She’s one of the best people I’ve ever worked with,” Flaum said. “She was a top-notch business person, and a great friend to everybody she worked with.”
That friendship wasn’t always smiles and singing though. If a friend asked Julie Bergsten for advice, she’d offer the unvarnished truth, good or bad.
But even hard-to-hear advice was doled out with a generous spirit.
“She surrounded you with love,” Bradbury said. “She had such a presence, such strength, but she was a real softie.”
From her family and friends to her work with rescue animals to her professional life, Julie Bergsten’s life was lived with passion.
And, Bradbury said, “If she had a passion for something, she’d do it 10,000 percent.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.
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