Zita Vivo came to us at 85 years old and suffering from dementia. As a result she could tell us almost nothing about her life. However her essential character shined though. She was the typical sweet, little old lady. Never saying much, happy to be in a nice bed and eating only a small amounts. She had been in and out of shelters and at her advanced age had lost the ability to care for herself. That’s where we stepped in and gave her shelter in her last days.
Zita spent most of her time with us, quietly sleeping and she passed away in the same way - quietly with our caregiver in attendance.
While we don’t know much about Zita, her life was meaningful and we will remember her.
The beloved mother of Kiyah and Kemani, Crystal Lee Olko, 40 years of age, died on May 26, 2023, due to kidney cancer in Denver, Colorado.
Crystal was born in 1983 in New Jersey and adopted into the loving home of Eileen Shapiro and Michael Olko in her preschool years. She gained a sister named Liz, and her family fondly called her “Chrissy.” Crystal was a happy and active child in extracurricular activities, enjoying soccer, ballet, and theater. She also participated in Brownies for a short time. At age six, she required open heart surgery to repair valves and a hole in her heart. Crystal attended traditional public schools.
As an adult, Crystal was a free spirit and enjoyed moving around the United States and meeting new people. She worked a variety of different jobs. Friends became family, and Crystal’s smile and easygoing demeanor were infectious to everyone who met her. Family and friends were very important to Crystal, no matter the challenges in those relationships. Crystal and Michael Lee developed a dedicated, loving relationship with each other, and they shared family life for seventeen years before separating.
Before returning to Colorado in 2022, she and her two daughters lived in North Carolina. Crystal and her daughters loved the weather and the friendships they built in North Carolina. Still, she desired to return to Colorado sometime after her cancer diagnosis for trusted medical care. Crystal and her daughters enjoyed discovering new shows on Netflix, listening to music, and eating out. They loved being together, whether they were laughing at each other’s silly antics or in bed watching a movie.
Crystal believed in God and held her faith strongly in her heart. Her rosary and the symbol of the cross were important to her.
She is survived by her mother, Eileen; her sister Liz and; her two daughters, Kiyah Horne, Kemani Holmes and her biological son Donavan.
If anyone can be said to have had better luck at beating the worst odds of homelessness, it was Leo, who was 62 when he left this life on May 25, 2023, following a short stay at the Rocky Mountain Refuge for End of life Care. Before his time at the Refuge and following several years of sporadic living on the streets of Denver and Boulder, he had secured a secure, subsidized apartment and found occasional work as a landscaper.
Soft-spoken and mild in manner, Leo was born in Connecticut to a family he described as "difficult, with many problems, including a dad with alcoholism who traveled constantly." His growing years were challenging, with cross-country moves to Seattle, Palm Beach, and finally Denver. After completing ninth grade, he worked odd jobs until joining the military and serving in Vietnam.
He then joined the Merchant Marine as a deckhand on freighters, getting an expanded view of the world and learning the value of steady, hard work combined with travel — all in all, a “pretty happy time for me.”
A longstanding telephone marketing job in Denver ended in 2004, and that, along with “some bad investment decisions and a string of poor luck,” led to his being unhoused on and off for nearly 20 years. The three things he said were toughest about being unhoused were “keeping clean, having a secure place to sleep every night, and enduring bad weather."
He credited the counsel and friendship of a special case manager at Health Care for the Homeless with helping him to get healthy and established in a subsidized apartment at Walnut Place, taking periodic meals at the Carriage House Community Table.
Leo enjoyed reading about Scientology, practiced Tae Kwon Do, and researched naturopathic health remedies for himself and his friends. He claimed that "krill oil, barley greens and meditation have kept me pretty healthy for years,” though he acknowledged occasionally indulging in a hand-rolled cigarette. For relaxation, he liked fishing and riding his bike.
Asked to give advice to anyone facing homelessness, Leo counseled, “Tap into the services around you, really use them and keep in steady contact with the folks who run the organizations that help people in need of housing and health services…Don’t think that you can’t or won’t make your life better. Don’t ever give up on yourself.”
He had a safe, comfortable place to live during his final transition time, and will be remembered by those who cared for and about him at his final home in this life, the Rocky Mountain Refuge.
Ray Anthony Gonzales passed away on April 22, 2023, at the age of 58.
He was born in Denver, Colorado on October 9, 1964. Ray was preceded in death by his parents Rose (Bertha) Mendez and Maximino Gonzales, sister Antoinette, cousin Max Vigil, Grandmother Emma Gonzales and Grandfather Gregorio Marrujo. He is survived by his wife Veronica, his son Ray Anthony (Buddy) Gonzales II (Justine), Stepdaughter Shayla Montano and his beautiful granddaughter, Aariah Rose Castro-Gonzales. He is also survived by his Stepdad Ray Mendez, Sister Audrey Quintana, Brother Manuel (Anna) Lovato and other numerous relatives. He was especially close to his cousin Michael Vigil and long-time friend Anthony Romero.
Ray enjoyed old cars and riding his bike. He loved his music, dancing (go Turbo!), and loved taking things apart and then not knowing how to put them back together. Above all he loved his granddaughter Aariah and no matter how bad he was feeling she always made his day better.
In honor of Ray’s wishes, he would like to celebrate his life, along with his mother’s, at a family gathering to be scheduled for a later date.
~ By a family member
James "Mike" Roberson passed away at Rocky Mountain Refuge in Denver CO on September 14th, 2022.
James "Mike" Roberson arrived into this world August 23rd, 1972 with the odds against him. He was a hyperactive and super curious and intelligent boy that grew into a man with the same qualities of his youth.
As the saying goes, he never met a stranger. Although homeless, he was generous to a fault and would give the last of whatever he had to those less fortunate.
He touched many lives and those who had the pleasure of his existence will truly miss him.
~ By a friend
Joan Magill passed away in Denver on September 1, 2022, at the age of 59. Joan was born in Idaho in 1963 to Jim and Betty Magill. She grew up in Washington state and graduated from Seattle University with degrees in Nursing and Psychology.
Joan wanted to help those with PTSD and she earned an advanced degree in Psychosocial Nursing. She practiced in her field for 35 years, treating and advocating for veterans and civilians alike who faced past trauma.
Joan had a passion for life and living. She loved the outdoors and good food, and was accomplished at putting together gourmet camping trips with friends long before “glamping” was popular. Her enjoyment of nature included all seasons and she was an avid skier, runner and mountain biker. Joan enjoyed a good ghost
story and traveled to explore ghost towns. She loved all animals and cared for rescue birds. Those who spent time with Joan will remember her beautiful smile and compassionate spirit. Joan was preceded in death by her parents and is survived by her sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles.
Joan was remembered at a memorial service on October 5th, 2022. Donations in Joan’s memory may be made to the Rocky Mountain Refuge or a local animal rescue.
~ By her sister
Marianne Timko, 77, of Arvada, Colorado passed away on August 31, 2022 at the Rocky Mountain Refuge. She was preceded in death by her husband, Michael Timko, and is not survived by any known family members.
Marianne was born near Munich, Germany and came to the U.S. around 1982 and married Michael Timko. Her passions were her dogs, German food, and being an advocate for folks in recovery. She enjoyed computer work, gardening, cooking, and stating strong opinions on politics and social issues.
She had sixth sense about her that penetrated her conversations with you. She was intelligent and had a great sense of humor and her delightful German accent that added the punch to any punchline. She maintained an amazing attitude after years of pain of suffering with Arthritis in her hips and being housebound. Although her world was very small, she left a big hole in the hearts of those whose lives she touched. Cheri S.
Marianne was a tour de force! Blessed of God in power and grace. A great cook and good listener. And her opinion was hard to change. A big heart when she saw purity. I will miss her in the gardens of David. Steve T.
I learned a lot from Marianne, she was wise and an empathetic, caring person. She had a good sense of humor and was a unique and interesting person. Jonas C.
Marianne lived in a house that my wife and I purchased in 2008 so we've known Marianne for 14 years as a tenant and a friend. If we didn't hear from Marianne throughout the month we always heard from her when it was time to pay the rent because she wanted us to know that she had brought it over or taped it to the door and wanted to make sure that we knew she paid the rent. she was frugal in everything she did and fearless when it came to conflict. Marianne would sit on the front porch and once was heckled by a group of boys as she sat there holding the phone and dialed 911. She then verbally fought with these boys until the police showed up. You didn't mess around with Marianne. She was colorful in everything she did and will be missed. Jim H.
Patrick was born February 11, 1983, to Jim and Liz Frome Higgins. He joined big sister Kate in completing the Higgins family.
Patrick lived in Lakewood, Colorado, his entire life, attending Belmar Elementary, Creighton Middle School, and Lakewood High School. In his youth, Patrick’s choice of sports was baseball. His immense collection of baseball cards attests to his love of the game. His favorite team was the Kansas City Chiefs. He also excelled in basketball. In high school, he tried his hand at tennis. Patrick enjoyed the theater, starring with Kate in Fiddler on the Roof. Patrick was an enthusiastic fan of Star Wars and sported a Mandalorian tattoo. His favorite quote was, ”May the force be with you.” As an adult, Patrick had a talent for the culinary arts, having jobs in several restaurants.
Patrick passed on August 23, 2022. He leaves to mourn his death; his mother, Liz, his Aunt, Cleo deLaugerheim (Bruce), cousins Curtis, Travis, Joni. His father, Jim, sister Kate and grandparents preceded him in death.
Patrick will be fondly remembered for his good heart and his incredible sense of humor. His many friends will miss him. One friend said, “Patrick left this world much too soon.”
~ By a family member
David R. Esquivel, 81, passed away August 5, 2022 in Denver, Colorado at the Rocky Mountain Refuge. David was raised in Dallas, Texas and Chicago, Illinois.
David owned and later sold Santa Fe Carpenter Shop. He will forever be remembered for his expertise for custom furniture and repairs. When asked how did you do that his favorite saying was “It’s a simple thing”.
In his spare time David enjoyed sharing his life stories, reading, cooking, and watching sports (especially the Denver Broncos and the Colorado Rockies) at the local brewery.
He loved to watch his favorite show “The Price is Right” and Telenovas because he said they had pretty girls. If he was at a loss for a word he would say “What do you say”?
Anyone who had the honor of knowing David will remember his funny and stubborn personality. He will be missed by the friends he made over the years but he will never be forgotten.
Special thanks to Rocky Mountain Refuge end of life care and TRU Community Care Hospice. Please consider a donation in David’s name.
~ By a friend
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Rocky Mountain Refuge for End of Life Care is a Colorado Non-Profit Corporation offering shelter for end-of-life care regardless of a person's race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status.
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