Mike Maudlin pauses to collect his thoughts on Sunday while speaking at a memorial service for Chris Corna. Maudlin worked with Corna at Slopeside Grill, which Corna owned at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Mike Maudlin pauses to collect his thoughts on Sunday while speaking at a memorial service for Chris Corna. Maudlin worked with Corna at Slopeside Grill, which Corna owned at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

Corna remembered as charming, generous

Hundreds gather Sunday afternoon for memorial service near Slopeside Grill

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Chris Corna's Memorial Service

Hundreds of friends and family members gathered Sunday to remember Steamboat Springs resident and businessman Chris Corna.

Hundreds of friends and family members gathered Sunday to remember Steamboat Springs resident and businessman Chris Corna.

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Andy Wirth speaks Sunday at a memorial service for Chris Corna. Corna owned the Slopeside Grill at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area. A massive crowd packed the memorial service where friends and family members told stories of Corna.

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A large crowd overflowed the tent at a Sunday memorial service for Steamboat Springs resident Chris Corna in front of Slopeside Grill.

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Chris Corna

— Chris Corna was a charmer - a lover of animals and Tom Petty, a great teacher, a tireless adventurer and a heck of a businessman, his friends and family members said.

Hundreds of them gathered Sunday evening between his beloved Slopeside Grill and his beloved snowboarding mountain. They spoke of Corna's sense of humor, generosity and dashing good looks. Corna died May 18 in Port Chester, N.Y.., at age 45.

Lindsey Grannis helped organize the memorial service. She had known Corna since his arrival in Steamboat Springs, when he started working for her as a waiter in 1993 at the Time Out Sports Bar and Grill.

"That smile might have actually brought us all the business we had that winter," Grannis said.

The Time Out Sports Bar later became Slopeside, and Grannis later worked for Corna.

"He was sitting on the deck, and I pulled him aside and I said, 'Would you like to be my assistant manager for the upcoming winter?'" she said. "And he looked me in the eye and said, 'Lindsey, don't tell anyone yet, but I just bought the place. Will you be my manager?'"

Corna also was a University of Florida Gators fan. A college friend, Aaron Youngdahl, told about a Florida-University of Kansas basketball game he attended with Corna. Corna was getting agitated because the team was huddling up, and star center Joakim Noah wasn't participating.

"He stood up in a relatively quiet auditorium and shouted, 'Get in the huddle, Noah!' Sure enough, Noah looked over at him, stood up and got in the huddle," Youngdahl said.

Corna traveled the world with his friends and family. Carlos Vidueira said he and Corna mountain biked in Costa Rica, dove with whale sharks in the Galapagos and fished for marlin off the coast of Africa.

Corna's cousin Brad Webb said his 4-year-old daughter asks him each night to tell "the Chris stories."

But there are too many to recount, Webb said. Corna was the type of person who treated others with generosity and compassion, he said.

"If he were here, and I'm sure he is somewhere, he'd say, 'Well, that sucks. He was a good dude, but that's life, and that's how it goes, so let's move on," Webb said. "And he'd probably crack some mildly inappropriate joke about the situation, and we'd all sort of laugh very nervously, and then we'd move on because he'd want us to be happy and not hurting."

Jeff Kelly, whom Corna called "Roomie," lived with the Ohio native at the University of Florida.

"This is the second hardest thing I've ever had to do. The first was living with Chris Corna," Kelly joked.

His pain showed through, however, when he talked about how he and Corna considered themselves brothers.

Corna was nicknamed "Hollywood," Kelly said. It came about when Corna was working as a waiter at a sorority house. The women loved him, Kelly said.

"They had this big, heavy-set cook named James, and he came in one day and said, 'Man, you are Hollywood,' and it stuck," he said. "That's the truth."

Kelly also shared the memories provided by his 12-year-old daughter, who knew Corna as Uncle Hollywood.

"When he saw a huge bear in his front yard, he decided to scare that bear away by throwing a brick," she wrote. "And he did, and the bear chased him and he lost his shoe. : He kept in touch with old girlfriends, even those he dyed Easter eggs with in college. : He was a mama's boy, and even though he really wanted a motorcycle, he would never get one because his mom didn't want him to get one."

All speakers offered the same message: Chris Corna improved their lives. He made life better for everyone around him, and he was generous with his money and his time.

Corna also loved to tease people.

Mike Maudlin, who worked with him at Slopeside, told a story about a woman who came into the restaurant "dripping in diamonds." Corna looked her over and said, "Well, I'll bet this'll be your first time in a restaurant without a drive-up window."

Corna's generosity was legendary, Maudlin said, recalling the time Corna took his entire staff to Mexico. He also spoke of a trip he and Corna took to see Tom Petty in Jackson Hole, Wyo. A sheriff stopped Corna for going 85 miles per hour.

"As he getting ready to walk away, Chris said, 'How far is it?' and the guy said, 'Oh, about 85, 90 miles.' And Chris said, 'So, about an hour?'" Maudlin said. "The sheriff laughed and said, 'Be safe.'"

Through the tears and the laughter, mourners seemed to be starting their healing process.

"My wish is for his eternal peace and that we may all keep the vivid memories of Chris, who is forever young," Youngdahl said.

Maudlin struck the same chord.

"I once read, 'If my passing has left a void, then fill it with remembered joy,'" Maudlin said. "It's going to be easy."

Comments

steamboatsprings 4 years, 11 months ago

A fitting goodbye for a classy guy. It doesn't matter how he left us just that we got to share time on this earth with an incredible friend.

Thank you Chris!

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Tracy Barnett 4 years, 11 months ago

As packed as that service was, there were many of us who weren't able to make it. What an amazing showing! He touched so many lives. RIP, Chris.

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Verleen Tucker 4 years, 10 months ago

While watching a video of Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds playing at Radio City Music Hall, I thought of Chris sitting on the top of the world with his legs hanging free. It is the first thought I've had of Chris since Tuesday last that made me smile.

GATOR-1 RIP

Verleen Tucker

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brandon clark 4 years, 10 months ago

News of this trajedy finally made it's way to Tulsa, Ok last night. Our hearts go out to everyone in Steamboat and especially the staff and everyone associated with Slopeside.

Brandon Clark & Travis Kidd

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Chad James 4 years, 11 months ago

Thanks, Chris for the reminder to spend time with our friends. 10 times the people that were there last night would have attended if they could. You touched so many people's lives. Have fun with Aspen! RIP

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Stacey Hallberg 4 years, 11 months ago

Chris was our busboy, our King of Diamonds (Sorority Sweetheart) and our friend. He was loved by all and our lives are better for knowing him. Hollywood, rest in peace and may your family find comfort from our prayers! The ADPi's

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chris woodie 4 years, 10 months ago

I think yesterday (sunday) was the only time I'd ever wished I were in Steamboat again! lol. I visited the boat shortly after the season ended, So the Slopeside was closed. I called there to check, and Chris answered. I told him who it was and, (of course) he said "You're in town? Looks like we closed just in time then!"

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chris woodie 4 years, 10 months ago

Oh, and thanks a million for posting a video of the services, that I couldnt be at.

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drumski 4 years, 11 months ago

What a beautiful memorial......so nice to see everyone that loved Chris. We'll miss you my friend! You will not be forgotten!

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myworld 4 years, 10 months ago

Chris, rest in peace. Thanks to you a special someone gained the courage to be what he is today.

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alohamomma 4 years, 10 months ago

The way Chris lived is such an inspiration. All of his adventures and the way he lived his life is something we should all aspire to be.

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