GREELEY — I have found that working in politics as a reporter, I need to at times surround myself with people who don’t, people who care more about life and living it to its fullest, people who just make me laugh, people who let me escape a sometimes very stressful world.
Scott Sessions was one of those people. To many people across the state and the country who’ve seen this incredible man play his trumpet, he was an amazing musician they wished they could get closer to.
But to those of us who grew up with Sessions, he was so very much more. He was a man with an infectious smile. A man with a love for fun. A man who cared deeply about his friends and family.
I learned early Wednesday morning that the man I’d called a friend for nearly 40 years is dead. The events surrounding his death are unknown, but the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that he was found in the area of Old Flowers Road and Pingree Park Road in Bellvue, northwest of Fort Collins. His death has been ruled a homicide.
Anyone with information is asked to call Larimer County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Justin Atwood at (970) 498-5143.
Writing has always helped me cope with loss, and I’ve spent most of my morning on text messages or phone calls with other friends trying to wrap our minds around the idea he is gone.
Greeley has always been and will always be a small town where you can count on any number of people to have your back. Talking amongst ourselves today is what we all needed. However, it means more to share with the world that knew him from afar, the behind the scenes Scott. Another high school classmate of mine, Vince Terrazas, recalled a memory from 1985 that epitomizes what we all knew about Scott.
“Scott and I were driving in that old car of his with that push-button gear change, it was awesome when it worked,” Terrazas said. “Anyway, we grabbed some lunch and pulled out our horns and played our best impressions of Maynard Ferguson, improvised on some blues licks. Good times. Damn good times! I learned a lot from him in those days. Thanks for the jam sessions and your friendship. His passion was infectious even back then.”
Scott was one of those friends we all have. I didn’t get out with him often. Both our worlds keep us very busy, but we generally ended up at the same parties a few times a year, and we kept up with each other on social media. I followed his career, and he followed mine. But one thing was for sure, we both knew that we could always be counted on if we needed each other, and we were always excited to hang out when we did.
Scott was living the best part of his life. Playing trumpet for the Movers & Shakers, a group of friends and family playing some of the best original blues and contemporary alternative rock around. They’ve cut albums. They play across Colorado, and they just recently returned from a repeat trip to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn., where they made it into the semi-finals this year.
Scott was also part of the George Gray and the Elvis Experience Band. Those two met as youths through Boy Scouts, they first played together on the Greeley Stampede Free Stage years ago. Scott joined the Elvis Experience band full time three or four years ago, Gray said.
It was a gig Monday night that Scott didn’t show up for that eventually led to the discovery of his death.
George is also a dear friend of mine. I hate to admit it, but — thankfully — before Facebook and Instagram, I was a Karaoke nut, and George and I hung out at the same bars singing together before he made it big. He knew something was wrong when Scott didn’t show up Monday.
“It was totally unusual,” Gray said. “It was totally not Scott. He might have been running a little late once in a while, but he never just didn’t show up.”
Tuesday morning Gray contacted Scott’s dad, and that night after his show, he learned of his friend’s death.
“He always had a smile on his face,” Gray said. “He took life easy and fun, but there was a serious aspect of him wanting to get the song down and do it right. To see him grow from the little trumpet player at the Stampede … It was an honor to have him play with us. He brought spunk and movement to the brass section. He added a whole new dimension to the sound of our band.”
Former Greeley City Councilwoman Stacy Suniga also went to high school with Scott and stayed close to him over the years.
She recalled their 30th class reunion when they and a small group of friends stayed out all night “partying” until they wound up at a truck stop for breakfast at 5 a.m.
“As the sun rose, Scott and another friend wanted to find another bar, but I couldn’t hang,” Suniga said. “It was always so much fun with him.”
Laurie Gebbie laughed at some of the hairbrained stuff he would do like lose a ladder off the back of his work truck or forget the paint needed for a job. But she was most reminiscent of the friendship he offered.
“Scott and I spent the night on the floor of my new house sleeping with paper towel rolls as pillows,” she said.
The stories will continue, most definitely for days, most likely for weeks, months or years. Our annual friends BBQ hosted by another high school friend, Jen Kitchen, will likely be full of those memories this summer. He will not be forgotten. He can’t be forgotten. He was a man who was friends with everyone. He didn’t care, male or female, black or white. If you had a love for fun, Scott was having that fun with you.
“He went through a lot,” Gray said. “He experimented a lot. He played a lot. He really came into his own. To know when someone gets to that point, you become a cheerleader for him. You become a fan. Scott had so much to give to this world.”