Nicholas John Courtens passed away unexpectedly on May 21 outside Vail, Colorado, doing what he loved in the outdoors. Nick was born at home in Harlemville, New York on March 14, 1989, to Kelly Cashen Testa (Larry) and Jean Paul Courtens (Crystal). The oldest of three, he grew up on his family’s organic farms in Columbia County and attended Ichabod Crane High School, graduating in 2007. Shortly after graduation, Nick was accepted into the prestigious Longwood Garden Professional Horticulture Program in Pennsylvania where he honed his passion for everything plants and rocks. He came to Colorado in May of 2010 for a summer internship at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens where he remained on staff, ultimately becoming the Curator of Plant Collections where he oversaw the maintenance, design, propagation, and curation of the living collections. Over the years, Nick had been responsible for building several new rock gardens, perennial gardens and an alpine house. He participated in seed collecting in the Rocky Mountains and traveled the world to learn and speak about alpine environments and gardens. Nick shared his love of skiing with others and became a big mountain junior team ski coach with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. He coached many youth onto championship performances and was a role model on and off the slopes. Nick was known for his compassion for others and his love of life and continual personal growth. In addition to skiing, he was an avid mountain biker, fly-fisher, hiker, and whitewater rafter. He loved being with friends and family and his beloved cockapoo, Asa. Those closest to Nick knew him as a dependable friend who took the lead in helping to plan the celebrations of life for some of his closest friends who also passed away in outdoor adventure sports. In addition to his parents, he is survived by his brother Johannes (Betina) and children and his sister Annie, stepmother Jody Bolluyt, his grandmothers Meg Cashen of Claverack and Corrie Courtens-Soonius of the Netherlands, as well as many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Nick was well respected and influential and touched the lives of many friends and colleagues wherever he was. In honor of Nick, take a hike, plant a tree, and hug your loved ones. Donations in Nick’s name can be made to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, 183 E Gore Creek Drive, Suite 7, Vail, CO 81657.
Nicholas John Courtens
March 14, 1989 - May 21, 2023
Johnson Newspapers 7.1
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