Hiking Bob: A mentor passes 

I imagine that for almost everyone, there is a person who had a positive impact on their lives. It could be the person who kept their head together while others lost their way. Or maybe the person who could bring people together, or with a little nudge or a well-worded comment, give others the confidence they needed to make a tough decision, or to engage in a new endeavor.

For me, one of those people was Chris Beyer, who passed away last week after a short battle with cancer. She was a youthful 72 years old.

I met Chris some years ago when we were both on the Board of Directors for the Friends of Cheyenne Cañon. I had never been a “director” of anything, and after a couple of meetings I felt like I was out of my element. Chris, on the other hand, was a veteran of the board and its vice president.  She had a great “can do” attitude, a wickedly sly wit, and was always there to give me an encouraging nudge and say the right things to keep myself, and others, confident, engaged and motivated.

With her encouragement and guidance, I thrived on the board and eventually became its president. Knowing I could only be truly effective by learning from smart people around me, I asked Chris to be the board's vice president.  When I left the board, she became president, mostly so that she could prep a much younger board member to take over in that role in a few years. Chris wasn’t all that interested in being in charge, but was instead guided by the desire to share her knowledge and help others reach their potential. That’s the kind of person she was.

But this isn’t just about her effect on me. You see, Chris mentored many people in Colorado Springs.

After serving as vice president of the Friends of Cheyenne Cañon while Chris was its president, Rebecca MacNamee became the youngest ever president of the group, for which she gives credit to Chris’ mentoring and encouragement. “Chris was a really outstanding mentor to me, and to so many others in the community," says MacNamee. “She was always there if I had questions or needed some extra hands. Although she will be missed by all, her impact will still be present for many years to come.”

Marlene Bjornsrud first met Chris Beyer when Bjornsrud was a student at Wasson High School in the '60s. At the time, Chris was a brand new, 21-year-old physical education teacher. Bjornsrud remembers her as having an “innate gift to encourage people” and that “she had a special heart for making young girls understand they could be leaders”. Bjornsrud made the most of Chris’ gift, going on to a distinguished career as a leader in women’s sports, crediting Chris as “one of the most significant people in my life”.

click to enlarge Chris Beyer, far right, with fellow hikers, just days after her cancer diagnosis. In typical Chris fashion, she didn't tell anyone about her diagnosis until later. - SUSAN GARSOE
  • Susan Garsoe
  • Chris Beyer, far right, with fellow hikers, just days after her cancer diagnosis. In typical Chris fashion, she didn't tell anyone about her diagnosis until later.

Ron Leasure worked alongside Chris both during his time as the city’s Park Ranger in North Cheyenne Cañon Park, and later as the president of the Friends of Cheyenne Cañon, during which time Chris was vice president. Leasure recalls that “she [Chris] would always make sure that the park and programs were run like a clock,” adding, “she would remind me [of] the importance of giving and caring for the park and for [the] community. The Cheyenne Cañon families and friends lost one great lady, and my friend”.

Trails and Open Space Coalition Executive Director Susan Davies recalled that “Chris was a smart, strategic and had such a passion for North Cheyenne Cañon Park. She tirelessly gave so much to our community”.

But, the best insight into Chris’ love of the outdoors and her desire to help others comes from her son, Rob Templin III.  “By age 5, I had my own backpack and we would go hiking,” he says, “we would travel for months as a family to go camping." This ingrained in him a love of the outdoors. He still regards North Cheyenne Cañon as his “go-to” place for outdoor recreation.

When it comes to helping others, he says of his mother, “The most beautiful thing about her was the trust people had in her to do things. ... She looked at everybody and saw their potential first and foremost. She could put people in a place to make the most of their potential.”

After her retirement from teaching, Chris joined Global Dental Relief. She traveled to third-world countries, where she worked alongside dentists who were giving people what was likely their first ever dental care. Her job revolved around putting people, especially children to whom she gave coloring books, at ease as they waited for their treatment. That’s the kind of person she was.
click to enlarge Chris Beyer, with kids from Global Dental Relief. - ROB TEMPLIN III
  • Rob Templin III
  • Chris Beyer, with kids from Global Dental Relief.

We all have someone in our lives who has mentored us, or guided us, or encouraged us, to be the best we can be. Appreciate those people in your life. More importantly, take that gift and pass it on to others.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, a memorial for Chris will be held at a future date, to be announced by the family.

Be Good. Do Good Things.
Be Like Chris Beyer.

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for almost 28 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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