Jonathan Francis (Jon) Hollinger of Aspen, Colorado, passed away peacefully under the full moon at the age of 75, on Thursday, March 21st - the first morning of spring. He was at home with his children and beloved hunting dogs when he succumbed to complications from the progression of AL (Primary) Amyloidosis. He had been valiantly fighting this rare and complicated disease since he was diagnosed by Dr. Craig Reeder at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona in January of 2012.
Jon was born on December 6th, 1943 in Almonte, Ontario, Canada to John Charles and Christena Mae Hollinger. Growing up in the riverside hamlet of Ferguson’s Falls, Ontario, Jon worked on his family’s farm and was a sportsman from an early age. He spent his free time fishing, trapping, running hounds for white-tailed deer, and hunting for ruffed grouse and black ducks with friends and family in this game-rich area of Eastern Canada. After a couple of false starts, Jon graduated from Ottawa Tech High School with honors in fist-fighting, skirt-chasing and general hell-raising.
Fulfilling the dream of moving West, Jon trekked out to Banff, Alberta and worked as a ski instructor for two seasons, making many life-long friends. Then, looking for new adventure, Jon moved to Grand Bahama Island. He developed a passion for sailing, and became involved in 12 metre yacht racing, competing extensively in the SORC series, as well as two Trans-Atlantic races, and one Trans-Pacific race. He crewed on several notable craft, including “Windward Passage”, “Stormvogel”, and “Ticonderoga”, and for notable skippers including Cornelius Bruynzeel, Bob Johnson and Ted Turner.
In 1969, Jon heard the call of the mountains again, and moved to Aspen, Colorado where he would spend the rest of his life. Jon generally eschewed the terms “Ski Bum” and “Hippie”, but he was one of the vanguards of many 1960’s and 70’s ski-town traditions. He was friends with many “colorful” characters, worked multiple jobs at a time - often in hospitality or Food and Beverage, and taught skiing on both Buttermilk and Aspen Mountain.
Utilizing the skills that he had honed in the woods as a boy, Jon received his first Colorado Outfitter’s License in 1969. He opened The Sub Shoppe in 1971, later to become The In and Out House, and now the location of the Grateful Deli. A chance encounter with Elizabeth “Pussy” Paepcke in 1971 lead to a long friendship and the founding of “The Red Mountain Horse Centre” at the Paepcke Family’s Ericson Ranch overlooking Aspen. Jon and his then-girlfriend Pamella Pullen became locally famous for breeding, boarding, breaking and training horses. They lived and operated the outfitting business on the ranch for 16 years, were married in 1976 and were divorced in 2000.
Jon continued to run Aspen Outfitting Company until his son Jarrod took over operation of the business in 2012. Over more than 40 years in the industry, Jon guided thousands of clients on horseback riding and flyfishing trips, big game and bird hunts all across North America. Jon loved nothing more than sharing the outdoors with his clients, many of whom would become some of his closest friends.
Jon was known for his adventurous spirit, his depth of knowledge on a variety of topics, his story telling, and his sense of humor. He was a gentleman, a sportsman, a fiercely loyal friend, a daunting opponent, and an advocate of following one’s heart. He is survived by his children Jarrod and Jessica, his sisters Janet McIntyre and Margaret Little, many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand nephews.
Jon’s Aspen family will host a celebration of life in the Roaring Fork Valley at the beginning of June. Location, date and time to be announced. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Roaring Fork Chapter of the Audubon Society in Jon’s name.