Eef an active inspiration right to the end
The Vail Valley lost one of its moving spirits Tuesday, Feb. 18, when Jon Efraimson, after a short but valiant fight with lung cancer, died at University Hospital in Denver.What struck people most upon meeting Efraimson, 36, was his vitality and his love of life. It is why he immediately made friends wherever he went, and why he was highly inspirational to many right up until the end."He was an amazing person," says friend Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation. "He loved this place."You could see that love, she adds, in every film he produced for the area. As the owner and founder of the video/television production company, EEF Productions, Efraimson Eef, as his friends called him produced countless videos and commercials for, and about, the valley and its events over the past seven years."Eef started up as a vendor (to the Vail Valley Foundation), but he quickly became a friend to me, and to everybody." Folz says. "Probably lots of people here at the foundation felt that same way."As evidence of just how many people he touched, when the Vail Valley Charitable Fund held Relief for Eef, a fundraiser this past November to help Jon and wife Lisa with mounting medical bills, some 700 people showed up."Because of his videos, he worked with so many people," explains Folz.But it was also a tribute to Efraimson’s own generous and giving nature. Over the years, he has repeatedly donated personal and professional time and resources to help out a variety of community causes."If you asked me to name 10 people who have made our community special, Eef’s name would be one of them,"Folz says.Yet Efraimson also had a wonderful sense of humor and an amazing zest for life. Folz recalls the first time she met Efraimson; he was dressed in a dress. He was participating in some crazy stunt in the annual Great Race at season’s closing."He was a funny guy," Folz remembers.But more than that, Folz says, it was his determined and dedicated work style and personal style that stood out. Efraimson, she says, was a problem-solver."There was never a problem he couldn’t find a solution to," she says. She recalls more than one occasion when her staff was stumped about how to address a sticking point in a project. But just as she and her staff were ready to throw in the towel, Efraimson would show up and say, "no," and come back with workable ideas. "He was probably the most creative, problem-solving person I’ve ever met in my life."That problem-solving mindset was perhaps most evident during his final months. Diagnosed just this past July a month after his marriage to Lisa with Stage Four lung cancer, and given a dismal prognosis, Efraimson would not give in. Nor would he meekly accept what he was told."All my life I’ve enjoyed challenges," Efraimson said last fall in an interview with The Trail. "There have been times in my life where I’ve set goals to achieve or looked for my next challenge. I think I’ve found it."With his typical, can-do attitude, Efraimson began reading every book he could find and combed the Internet to research his disease himself. He came up with his own blend of treatments, including traditional and experimental cancer treatments, yoga classes, visualization and acupuncture. In addition, he found out about and talked his way into a clinical trial on an experimental cancer treatment."I think that’s how he approached his diagnosis with cancer right up to the very last hour," Folz says.Last August, just a month after learning the grim news, he wrote to friends, "Many people feel that we are unlucky and can’t believe all of this has happened to us. I don’t feel that way; I feel so lucky to be with Lisa, and so fortunate about all of the good things that have happened to me and us in our lifetimes."Efraimson also took the time to e-mail concerned friends and acquaintances with updates on his progress."Now, I don’t write this so you will feel sorry for us," he wrote in one e-mail late last October, "but to emphasize how important it is to love our family, live with your heart, and live each day to the fullest."Folz recalls that receiving those e-mails was one of the high points of her days."He always addressed the issues," she says, "then ended by how thankful he was living here, and having his wife. He never lost sight of that."An avid sportsman, who loved skiing and hiking, Efraimson stayed active up until the end. In fact, he set goals for himself to keep himself motivated and active. One of those goals was riding his bike up Vail Pass before this winter; he did that. Another was playing a round of golf; he played two. He even snowshoed this past month. In fact, most of the time, he said he felt great.A third goal was to keep working and being productive. That is exactly what he did, until just over two weeks ago, when he began having difficulty breathing. At that point, Efraimson was hospitalized. He left briefly, before being re-hospitalized for breathing problems early Tuesday, and passing away shortly thereafter.Efraimson did not waste time complaining about his plight.Instead, he spent his last moments trying to "catch as many sunsets as I can."That attitude has inspired many people during the past months.As Efraimson himself admonished his many friends and well-wishers last fall: "Don’t wait to give your kid an extra hug," he wrote. "Tell your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend that you love them, make someone’s day, and don’t be afraid to laugh or cry. Life is a gift and should be enjoyed."Efraimson graduated from high school in Verndale, Minn., and graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., with a bachelor’s degree. He is survived by his wife, Lisa Land Efraimson of Edwards; his father, Carl R. Efraimson of Colorado Springs; his sister, Carla E. Sutherland of Colorado Springs; his sister Danielle S. Efraimson of Albert Lea, Minn.; his brother-in-law, Cecil C. Sutherland of Colorado Springs and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.He was pre-deceased by his son, Owen Daniel Efraimson and his mother, Ellen Efraimson.A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek, presided over by Pastor Dan Rohlwing.In lieu of flowers, send donations to the Jon "EEF" Efraimson Memorial Fund, c/o FirstBank of Vail, 17 Vail Road, Vail, CO, 81657.