Headline: Passionate about life and love
Tracy Simpson spent the last morning of her life pursuing a passion with the person she was most passionate about.Simpson, a 23-year-old Avon resident, was skiing with her husband, Josh, when she apparently lost control and slammed into a tree on Sawbuck, a beginners’ run at Bachelor Gulch, in the Western reaches of Beaver Creek Resort. She suffered a head injury and was pronounced dead at the Vail Valley Medical Center, shortly after 1 p.m. Monday.Results from an autopsy performed Tuesday determined Simpson died of a head injury “due to blunt-force trauma,” said Eagle County Deputy Coroner Kara Bettis.Friends, co-workers and current and former employers remember Simpson as a cheerful, kind-hearted and compassionate young woman who loved life, friends and family, living in the mountains, and most of all Josh Simpson, whom she had dated since high school.”They were just so in love,” said Andrea Paxson, a bartender at Paddy’s Sports Bar & Grill in Eagle-Vail, where Simpson worked part-time for the first six months she lived in the Vail Valley.Tracy Simpson, who spent part of her childhood in California, attended Xavier High School in Phoenix and graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She married Josh Simpson right after college and they moved to Colorado two years ago. After a stint as rafting instructors in Glenwood Springs, the couple took up residence in the Vail Valley.”It was just so nice to see a young couple like that be so much into each other,” Paxson said. “Gosh, just thinking about that makes me want to cry. It’s just so sad.””It’s really awful. She and Josh were so happy. That’s the worst of it,” added Jennifer Brosch, another waitress at Paddy’s. “She was always nice and fun to work with. She was just so sweet.”Ralph Dockery, owner of the popular neighborhood bar, remembers Tracy Simpson as a “really pretty girl, really vivacious.”Despite a long-standing practice of having only full-time waitresses tend to customers in the bar area, Dockery said, Tracy Simpson’s charm and good cheer made her such an asset he couldn’t hide her in the dining area for long.”We moved her to the bar really quick. We normally don’t do that with part-time employees because it’s a lot faster-paced. She was just so good, and the guys really liked her.”Tracy Simpson’s professional path in the valley seemed to have been paved with prompt promotions wherever she worked. After waiting tables, working as a nanny and being a part-time “shot girl” at the Tap Room in Vail, she began working this spring for East West Resorts, which operates several large condominiums and hotels in Beaver Creek.”She smiled every day and quickly established a great rapport with customers and co-workers,” said Tish Palmer, general manager for East West’s Center Village Operations. “We actually put her in a position of assistant property manager at the Oxford Court property almost immediately.”Palmer, who also employed Tracy Simpson as a nanny for her infant son, said the young woman “was doing a great job and was really blossoming” in her last job, which she loved because it let her be near her husband, also a property manager for East West Resorts.”They were just an incredible couple. For their age they had an amazing relationship. They really were soul mates,” Palmer said.As committed as Tracy Simpson was to her husband, she was also determined to experience life to the fullest and make meaningful friendships last. She was the best friend anyone could have, say those who knew her.Tracy Simpson was an all-around athlete, who never flaunted her abilities, instead helping others find satisfaction in outdoors activities. She called out of the blue, just to check on friends. She rarely went anywhere on her own, always inviting others to come along.”She was just so into life. Always up for anything. No matter what it was, you could always call Tracy and she would be ready to do it,” said Scoie Loop, who met Simpson through mutual friends a year ago.”We hiked a lot together. She was really into yoga and we would go running together,” said Loop. “We were planning on doing the San Diego Marathon next summer.”Loop said the news of Tracy Simpson’s death on the slopes left her in disbelief.”She was a great skier,” she said. “I still can’t believe she is gone. I’m definitely going to miss her. She was just such a fun person to be around.”Erika Van Ausdal, 22, said she’d known Tracy Simpson since high school. Tracy Simpson was very social, Van Ausdal said, but didn’t observe senseless social standards.”She would talk to everybody. She’d always ask “Hey, how are you doing?’ And really care about your answer,” said Van Ausdal, who remembers Tracy Simpson chatting with her when “it wasn’t cool for seniors to do that.”Van Ausdal said she joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority at Arizona State for one reason.”If it hadn’t been for Tracy, I’m not sure I would have even considered it,” she said. “She was my house mom and much more. She helped me understand the sorority and how to adjust to being in college. If I had any question, I could just call her it was never a big deal. … She was someone I looked up to, even though she wasn’t that much older. She just balanced life so well. I’m really glad to have known her.”Like everyone, who knew Simpson, Van Ausdal said her thoughts are with Josh Simpson, as well as Tracy Simpson’s parents.”She and Josh were just like best friends. I remember seeing her on campus with her ring and she was just so excited. They had known each other for five years and they wanted to travel abroad and do so many things together,” said Ausdal. “I’m glad to have known her and I am so sad for Josh.”Simpson will be laid to rest in Phoenix, where her parents reside. As of Wednesday, no local memorial services in her memory were scheduled.Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 602, or at email@example.com.
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