Shocked friends saw Sutphen as an inspiration
EAGLE COUNTY ” Friends say Bill Sutphen was a tireless cancer fundraiser, dedicated worker and avid outdoorsman.
Sutphen ” a 45-year-old former valley resident who recently moved to Longwood, Fla. ” jumped from an overpass Monday onto Interstate 4 in Lake Mary, Fla. where he was struck by several vehicles, police there reported. Authorities have tentatively ruled his death a suicide.
“We will miss Bill’s energy, enthusiasm and generosity that he shared in this community over the years,” said friend Margie Hamrick, who last spoke to Sutphen over Christmas. “He will be deeply missed.”
In 2003, Sutphen lost close friend and Edwards resident Jon Efraimson to cancer. The two had formed a bond through the Colorado Ski Museum, where Sutphen served as board chairman and Efraimson produced video of hall of fame inductees.
“Through that they got to know one another and found they had very similar personalities,” said Efraimson’s wife, Lisa, who now lives in Denver. “When Jon was diagnosed with cancer, Bill was always there.”
Before Jon Efraimson died, he asked others to create a fund to provide financial support for cancer patients. Sutphen, Hamrick and others began a foundation providing financial assistance for the daily needs of patients undergoing treatment at the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards.
“Bill wanted very much to create a fund,” Hamrick said. “Bill worked on this endlessly to raise funds.”
In the foundation’s first year, Sutphen rode 404 miles from Cortez to Copper Mountain in the Ride the Rockies race, bringing in nearly $80,000. In the most recent fund-raising race, Lisa Efraimson and Sutphen rode tandem up Vail Pass.
“He pulled my butt up Vail Pass,” Lisa Efraimson said.
Family, work and skiing
Sutphen, father of three daughters, worked as a divisional vice president of distribution for Coors Brewing Co. for 10 years. In April 2005 he became senior vice president for a distributor, Schenck Co., in Florida.
His work as chairman of the Colorado Ski Museum rejuvenated the Vail Village facility, said, a former director of the ski museum.
“It’s like a whole new life was breathed into the museum,” Hamrick said.
Sutphen grew up in Fairfield, Conn. and graduated from Denver University in 1983. He purchased a second home in Edwards in 1990 before moving to the valley full-time in 1994. Shortly after Sutphen accepted the position at Coors, moving his family to Denver.
Still, the family often commuted back for weekends and holidays with family and friends, Sutphen said.
“He loved Vail,” Hamrick said. “He loved living here and being part of the community. His passion outside working and family was skiing.”
In his free time, Sutphen surfed, biked and traveled, but his love was skiing.
Oftentimes he skied with Edwards friend Sandy Treat. The two met on the East Coast when Treat was 16 and subsequently attended Denver University together. Over the years the two managed to talk despite distance.
“He was special in that we he would make time in his busy schedule to stay in touch,” Treat said. “He’ll be incredibly missed by loved ones. His presence, in that it is contagious, will be especially missed by those he’s touched in his life.”
Sutphen is survived by his three daughters and wife Mona Sutphen.
Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or email@example.com.