euskal diaspora eta kultura


Juan Vertiz

Juan Vertiz
Juan Vertiz

2016/10/14 - Denver, AEB

Juan Francisco Vertiz
(February 15, 1978 - October 14, 2016)

With deep sadness, we share the passing of a passionate artist, a loving uncle, brother and son, a loyal and cherished friend. 

Juan Francisco Vertiz was born in Grand Junction, CO to Juan "Johnny" Vertiz and Peggy Fitzhugh Vertiz on February 15, 1978. 

Juan, age 38, left this world suddenly on October 14th, 2016, at his home in Denver. 

Juan enriched our lives in so many ways. Raucous laughter, Heavy Metal music, a gnarly beard and stinging sarcasm cloaked him. He was a Super Hero who was in truth, the gentlest of souls. He possessed great depths of love and compassion, and uncommon talent of expression. His artist's charisma gave him an ability to capture opposing ends of a spectrum and create beautiful, final and unexpected conclusions in both his art and his relationships. 

Juan grew up on the family farm and was a 1996 graduate of Fruita Monument High School. In 2003, Juan graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Mesa State College, something he worked tirelessly to achieve. Shortly after graduation, he moved to Denver to live his life and pursue his passion for the arts. From the time he could hold pencils and crayons, Juan colored and sketched. With paper and pencil in hand, flights of fancy took Juan to destinations we mere mortals could never imagine. His face would go completely still, his amazing eyes would glimmer and shine, and startling images would simply appear on page after page of paper. A camera in Juan's hands was a magical tool. His photos were raw, real and beautiful.

Juan was never like everyone else, he was extraordinary! His sweetest joy came from being Tio to his beloved nephew, Jackson, and niece, Emmylou. Romping through the yard, munching cereal, watching Saturday morning cartoons, sprawled across the floor, coloring, Tio adored every minute he spent with them.

Juan was predeceased by his maternal grandparents, Jim and Doris Jean Fitzhugh, and his paternal grandparents, Ascencion Ybarra and Francisco Vertiz of Spain. Here at home, Juan is mourned by parents, Johnny Vertiz and Peggy Vertiz, both of Fruita; his little brother and sister-in-law, Tommy and Kathy Vertiz of Fruita, and his cherished nephew and niece, Jackson and Emmylou Vertiz. Others who'll miss Juan include his Tia Maria Ascuncion Vertiz of Spain (Vicente Herrera, deceased); his aunts and uncles, Beverly Fitzhugh of Missouri; Rodney and Gay Fitzhugh of Ridgeway; David Fitzhugh of Kansas, and Mike and Cheryl Fitzhugh of Telluride. Juan's partners in crime including Joe Gorrino, Dave and Bennett Davenport, Kelton Coppinger and Jay McGlade will help lay him to rest. Juancho was a beloved son and brother to the Basque community, who'll mourn his passing while celebrating his life. Juan's circle, from the Bearded Villains to the quietest of art forums and countless friends, are all richer for having known his true heart. Life won't be the same now that Juan is somewhere else. We'll find him, though, in every Taco Tuesday, in every scrawny beard that doesn't measure up, in every brilliant sunrise and sunset that sets the sky on fire. 

There will be a viewing Friday, October 28 from 5 - 7:00 p.m. at Callahan-Edfast Mortuary, 2515 Patterson Road in Grand Junction. Services will be Saturday, October 29, beginning at 10:00 a.m. at Redlands Community Center, 2463 Broadway in Grand Junction. Burial will follow at Orchard Mesa Cemetery in Grand Junction. A gathering for remembrance and a meal will be held at Redlands Community Center immediately after the internment. 

Memorial contributions can be made in Juan Francisco Vertiz' name to the CMU Art Department, in care of the CMU Foundation, 1450 N. 12th Street, Grand Junction, CO 81501 or online at Those wishing to donate directly to the family can send checks to the Juan Vertiz Memorial Fund at Alpine Bank in Fruita, 125 N Park Square, Fruita, CO, 81521.

(Published in The Daily Sentinel on Oct. 26, 2016)


Bidali zurea


© 2014 Basque Heritage Elkartea

Bera Bera 73
20009 Donostia / San Sebastián
Tel: (+34) 943 316170

jaurlaritza gipuzkoa bizkaia