January 29, 1957 - March 3, 2022
Service Date: July 9, 2022
Kenneth Steven Tilton
Kenneth Steven “Steve” Tilton, 65, died peacefully Thursday, March 3, 2022, at his home in Telluride, Colorado.
Born in Alton, Illinois on January 29, 1957, he was the son of Cynthia J. (Thompson) and Kenneth C. Tilton.
Steve graduated from Alton Senior High School. After attending the University of Illinois for one year, Steve transferred to Arizona State University, where he hitchhiked and began his life journey out West including learning to ski and adopting a husky wolf, Quinn. He earned a bachelor of science of construction engineering degree from ASU in 1979. He moved to Colorado Springs in 1983, where he met Kelly Cunning, whom he married January 11, 1986, at First Presbyterian Church (later divorced in 1992), and had a German Shepherd, Char (short for Charlie), and an Egyptian Arabian horse, Gemini. Steve and Kelly fell in love with camping and hiking in the San Juan Mountains, bought a plot of land in Telluride surrounded by open space and old, rundown buildings, and moved there in 1991, from Palmer Lake, to build a home after they had two children (10 months apart), William James and Morgan Angela, both of whom Steve was extremely proud. Aside from being a thoughtful, caring father, he worked as a general contractor building homes for decades until transitioning into smaller house projects and becoming a real estate broker, both of which he excelled at with his meticulous attention to detail, punctuality, and eye for aesthetics.
In addition to his children, he is survived by his mother Cynthia (Thompson) Tilton; sisters Zoe Ann (Kurt) Ferguson and Yvonne Hammer of Godfrey, and Debbie Tilton (Christian Anastasiadis) of North Carolina; brother Mike (Kathy) Tilton of Godfrey; former parents-in-law John and Greta Cunning of Colorado Springs; former wife Kelly (Cunning) Alexander of Greeley; daughter-in-law Stephanie Escobar-Tilton, and his Havanese, Cash (named after Johnny Cash), who was often seen with Steve sprinting down the Jud Wiebe trail or hiking to the summit of Ajax Peak, a 12,800-foot summit at the end of Telluride’s box canyon.
Steve was preceded in death by his father, Kenneth Tilton, and sister Terri Bechtold.
An adventurer, artist, disciplined worker and jack-of-all-trades, Steve thrived on the simple mountain life and surrounding beauty of Telluride. He appreciated warm-weather escapes to the beach or desert during off-season. Every winter since settling in Telluride, he skied as often as possible, especially Log Pile, Little Rose, or Milk Run on a powder day. He relished a solitary snowshoe day on Lizard Head Pass and recently learned to backcountry ski with Morgan. In the summer, he was a skilled golfer, enjoyed gardening—he was thrilled to harvest the tastiest, tiniest carrots from his backyard—and mountain bike rides in the canyon or up high on Prospect Trail. He loved hiking—never tiring of the classic trails in his backyard—and venturing by motorcycle to camp solo among the aspens, soak up fall foliage, visit national parks with friends, or explore incredible landscapes like riding the White Rim trail with James or through Arches National Park with Morgan. Steve embraced the old and new, refined and rugged, with collections of old records, vintage neon signs, and antique furniture in the living room garnished with fresh cut flowers on the kitchen table and modern bar stools. He was a goofy kid at heart—he got a a kick out of wind-up toys—and had an impressive rock collection (that he smartly labeled). He also maintained impressive stashes of breath mints and dental floss picks. With twinkling blue eyes, Steve believed in practicing a positive perspective, was an astute and generous listener, excellent at giving advice, and humble. He was the most thoughtful gift giver.
Steve genuinely loved his life and his kindness will be deeply missed by his two kids, his community of Telluride, his neighbors, and many friends and business associates.
Per his wishes, his cremation was placed in the care of Crippin Funeral Home in Montrose, and a portion of his ashes will be buried and can be visited on the west side of Lone Tree Cemetery in Telluride, adjacent to the first home that he built for his family, where he taught his kids to walk, hike, and play in the snow overlooked by Bear Creek Canyon, Ajax Peak and Ingram Falls, and his favorite ski area.
Family and friends are invited to a celebration of Steve’s life from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday, July 9th, at the Core Area and Warming Hut of Telluride Town Park. Everyone is welcome.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of one’s choice or to the Colorado Lions Camp (via the “Camperships” fund) to support campers of varying abilities to experience the outdoors and independence; or to the Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind, a Michigan-based camp that teaches domestic and outdoor skills to visually impaired kids and young adults, both in honor of Steve’s beloved Grandmother Thompson, who was a skilled painter prior to losing her eyesight.
Online guestbook and information may be found at https://crippinfuneralhome.com.