Today, at the CU Memorial Events Center in Boulder—200+ friends, family, and former Buff teammates said goodbye to one of their own—and one of their best. Bartley Jon Roth. The size of the crowd says something about the largeness of the man and the powerful influence he had over so many of us.
I met Bart when I was ten-years old playing baseball in Aurora-Colorado almost 50 years ago and remained friends with him for the rest of our lives. Bart was a neighborhood kid and frequent athletic teammate but to say that he was also my hero—would not be an understatement. At various times in my life I feared him, hated him, liked him, always respected him and through it all I came to love the person he was even if I never fully understood why. I reflected on this when I left the Memorial at CU this morning and I think I figured it out.
“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”
Bart was gifted with an unusual trifecta of gifts that I never truly appreciated for their sheer rarity. He was capable of unmatched and unadulterated toughness and ferocity—toughest guy I ever knew. But he could also make me laugh like no one else. Not giggles—but that doubled-over, tears-in-your eyes, wet your pants hysterical laughter that becomes so rare as we get older. But the third leg of of the trifecta may be the most powerful—and partially explain our great love for him and why he impacted so many people. Bart was sweet. And Bart was kind. And Bart was fair and unfailingly decent.
We all know funny people and tough people and decent people—in varying degrees—but NONE of us know anyone with ALL of these characteristics bundled up into one dynamic package—one very special human being. Perhaps it explains why he could effect us on so many different levels. He really was one of a kind—a true original.
I had not seen Bart for several years, but I know I’ll miss him forever. It’s as if a mighty oak tree has been felled and we no longer bask in its protective shade but are left now with only the memories of how good it once made us feel to seek its coolness. Of all the things Bart was—and wasn’t—what I will remember most is simply this. Bart was a lovely person whose mere presence was usually a story waiting to be told decades later.
God speed Bart—we will see you again…someday.