Obituary: Ethan Alexander Turner

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Ethan Turner

Ethan Alexander Turner
Oct. 20, 1992 ~ Oct. 2, 2018

Ethan Alexander Turner was born Tuesday, Oct. 20, 1992, at Aspen Valley Hospital in Aspen, Colo. He was the first boy born to Pat and Niki Turner, joining his older sister, Caitlin, and later, brothers Lucas and Joshua.
Ethan left this world in the wee hours of Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, after losing control of his vehicle on Transfer Trail near Glenwood. Excessive speed was involved. He went out the same way he lived: pushing his limits.
Ethan let his parents know he wasn’t going to be an easy kid right away. Colicky, he screamed incessantly for the first six months of life, once prompting his sister to feed him an entire bottle of gas drops to shut him up. As a toddler Ethan was stubborn as a goat (perhaps prompting his later obsession with goats). He frequently drove his mother to tears before breakfast because he argued about everything, from refusing to take off his Batman costume for weeks at a time, to the appropriate ratio of milk vs. Cheerios in his bowl. From the time he was old enough to walk and talk, he knew what he wanted and that’s exactly what he did.
In 1998, the family moved to Meeker to start a church. Ethan attended Meeker Elementary School for Kindergarten through third grade. He liked school and was a good student who loved to read. When the family moved to property out of town, they homeschooled until Ethan graduated (a year early) with a homeschool diploma and his GED. Ethan loved to be outside in nature. He would get up before everyone else, do all his schoolwork, then pack a backpack with lunch and library books and spend the rest of the day down by the creek and in the surrounding hills. He was fascinated with nature, animals and survivalism.
At about 12, he attended Rodeo Bible Camp in Rifle to ride saddle broncs. He won a belt buckle that he wore for years. After the win, he never tried bronc riding again. That was kind of his M.O.: try something, excel at it, and then walk away.
He was a talented and creative artist in many mediums. His infamous “coyote hat”—crafted from a full coyote pelt complete with teeth, nose and red glass eyes—won the People’s Choice award at a local art contest.
At 14, Ethan walked into Antler Taxidermy and ended up an apprentice. For the next few years he learned the art of taxidermy. Despite his mother’s protests, he rode his bike five miles to work with his faithful dog Shadow at his side.
Ethan enjoyed all kinds of music and played in multiple bands, some with friends and some with family, performing all over the state. He always had music on, all the time, whether you wanted to listen or not. If you were in close proximity and he turned his head too fast, you ran the risk of getting slapped with one of his beloved dreadlocks.
In the summer of 2013 Ethan announced he was attending Freak Show School at Coney Island in New York. He wanted to hitchhike his way across the country, but his mother said no, so they rented a car and took a road trip together to N.Y.C. where Ethan learned to swallow swords and breathe fire. He passed all tests with flying colors and was told he could return there to work at any time.
He loved performing, and loved getting attention. Instead of being stared at on the Manhattan subway, French girls asked for his autograph. He was frequently mistaken for a rock star.
His next adventure was truck driving school in Utah for C.R. England in 2014. Again, he excelled, and spent the next nine months traversing the country in a semi.
He also went on a walkabout of the southwestern U.S. with nothing but his trusty backpack. For three months he lived the life of a vagabond, sleeping in empty sheds, working at a farm, finding food where he could get it.
Next, he applied to Colorado Mountain College’s outdoor education program. He would have graduated (again, with flying colors) at the end of this semester.
Ethan lived free and hated the idea of being tied to a schedule. He worked as a raft guide, at the X-Games, and distributed newspapers and magazines. At the time of his death he was also working at the Spirit Halloween store. When he wasn’t working or studying, he was camping, sleeping in his car, learning to sail, going skydiving, hiking, 4-wheeling, going to band practice, attending concerts and imparting his unique wisdom to his siblings and friends.
The first thing people noticed about Ethan was his external appearance, which is exactly what he wanted. Just when we thought he’d gone as far as he could go, he’d come up with something new. He worked for years to create a dramatic persona that included dreadlocks and tattoos and piercings and unusual attire. Every one of his tattoos had a story behind it, and most of them he designed himself.
The people who got past how he looked discovered a kind, gentle, loving soul who never knew a stranger, would literally give you the shirt off his back, and had no desire to get trapped in the rat race of tradition or commercialism. Ethan was a free spirit. He never judged anyone, loved everyone unconditionally, and expected the same in return.
He will be missed by all who love him. May we learn from his ways of freedom and love and fearlessness and be better for it. He accomplished—in a short period of time—what we all hope to accomplish: he changed the world, one person at a time, through his example of love and kindness and honesty and authenticity and fearlessness. He made an impact on everyone he met, and we are all indelibly marked by his life.
Ethan was preceded in death by his grandmother, Carol Turner. He is survived by his grandfather Thomas Turner of Glenwood Springs; grandparents Samuel and Beverly Bryan of Rifle; parents Pat and Niki Turner of Meeker; sister Caitlin (Chance) Walker and nephews Talen, Kellan and Finnegan, and niece Gracelyn of Meeker; brother Lucas (Haley) Turner and a nephew on the way in Rifle; youngest brother Joshua Turner in Rifle; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
There will be a celebration of Ethan’s life on what would have been his 26th birthday, Oct. 20, 2018, at 2:11 p.m. at the Spring Valley CMC campus in Glenwood Springs. Bring your own chair for a casual service. Wear a kilt if you have one. Costumes are welcome. There will not be a reception.
The family has set up a scholarship fund for students pursuing programs in outdoor education. Donations can be made here:


  1. The words that flow through this tribute expresses a lot of feelings, and wonderful information about a special person. Thank you for sharing! My condolences to the family ❤️

  2. My chance to spend a couple of hours in this young man’s company allows me to confirm the words found here. To try to explain more would feel like exaggeration. I’m praying you all find comfort in your memories, and God’s peace that passes understanding.

  3. Niki that was incredible thank you for going deep to find the strength Very well done I feel like I know Ethan on a more personal level now. Xo Sherry

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