Jack made friends with a boy down the block whose uncle had helped launch Estes Rockets, the local catalogue company that spread propulsion technology to thousands of astronaut wannabes. You could find the Beech house on the Fourth of July by following the explosions and clouds of smoke generated by a neighborhood war of revolution, waged with pop-bottle rockets and Roman candles, firecrackers and other flying engines of destruction.

At Lakewood High, Beech got interested in shop, filmmaking and music — especially Elvis and the Beatles. He would one day take a trip to England chiefly so he could visit the street crossing featured on the cover of Abbey Road. He bought a baby grand piano from a Denver hotel because John Lennon was said to have played on it. But his most consuming and lasting passion, even greater than his obsession with the Fab Four, involved the internal combustion engine.

"Jack loved cars," his brother says. "But cars didn't always love him back."

"His first car was a Camaro Z28," adds Shultz. "He had it for one weekend, then crashed it at Colfax and Kipling. My first car, he test-drove it for me ­— and crashed it two blocks from our house."

Beech took up skydiving at one point, and broke a leg. Being a daredevil was not, it seems, his true calling.

In 1974 he joined Coors, right out of high school. It was a decision he never regretted. He stayed with the company for twenty years, rising to middle management and fixing up and selling rental properties in his spare time. He also bought and restored classic cars — a '57 Chevy, a '72 Stingray, a '63 Rolls-Royce, a Mercedes 500 SL, a slew of 'vettes and Beetles — that he kept immaculately maintained. In his thirties, he branched into limos; wearing a chauffeur's cap, he'd score prime parking at clubs and sports arenas, then ditch the cap, crawl into the back and emerge with his buddies, a mysterious VIP with his own entourage.

He learned simple magic tricks as a way of overcoming his shyness in social situations, particularly with women. He was a tall, lanky, handsome man who seemed to get more attractive as he matured. Yet many of his relationships with the opposite sex didn't last as long as a tank of gas.

That was apparently by design. The pain of his own parents' divorce and subsequent breakups among other friends made a lasting impression on him. "He decided at a young age that he would never have kids and never get married," says Shultz. "He did have a lot of girlfriends, though. He hit on every single friend I've had in my life."

At parties, when people started pulling out pictures of their children, Beech would offer to show them "his kids" — and produce a snapshot of baby goats. Or maybe they'd like to admire his Pride and Joy; he kept a picture of the two household cleaners in his wallet, too. Corny stuff, but it was a way of needling the insufferably proud parents around him. Yet for a guy who had no interest in having children of his own, he spent a great deal of time playing with and bragging about his sisters' kids.

"The John I knew loved life," says Earbie Hurd, who began as Beech's supervisor in the Coors can plant and became one of his closest friends and an occasional roommate. "He had tons of friends. He was open and honest, and if you'd met him, you'd think he was the happiest guy in the world."

One night years ago, when Hurd was renting part of Beech's house, he came home from work and found Beech grinding up worms. He'd been trimming old trees at one of his properties that day, Beech explained, and found a nest of baby birds in one of the downed branches. He fed them worms until he could get the nest back into the tree.

Other people's lives revolve around their families. Beech had his work, his cars, and the easy laughter and short-fused romances one finds in bars — and if all that wasn't enough, there was the occasional impulsive trip to Jerusalem or Paris or some damn place. But then the work went away. In 1994 Beech took a buyout from Coors; he was not yet forty, and suddenly had time on his hands.

For a while he found diversion — and a surprising amount of success — in the casinos of Black Hawk. He told his brother that he'd developed a system for the slots. When Dave told him he was full of BS, Jack pulled out a wad of tax forms, the kind casinos issue when paying out five-figure jackpots. "Tell me how much BS this is," he said.

Jack explained that he would hit the casinos on Sunday night — when, he claimed, some slots were "looser" in order to meet the required percentage of payouts for the week. Sometimes he would lose, of course, but relatives say his picture showed up frequently in casino ads, clutching a big check. "One time he was down at this one machine and played until he felt he broke even," Dave Beech recalls. "As he was walking out the door, he put a buck and a quarter into a progressive slot — and walked away with $89,000."

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12 comments
Lourdes Rosario
Lourdes Rosario

Is hard to read minds, and ppl could be just being silly, and he has his mind set, so even if the person try to contact him, he would of done it anyway, his family claims knowing him, they are the ones that should of known something was different on the last days. There is no one to blame here, it happened.

Holly Elkins
Holly Elkins

So sad. Couldn't finish reading it. I would have done the right thing. I would have gone to his house and called the police. Regardless whether I know him or not. Horrible this women did nothing. She could have easily saved a life.

Latisha Lala Acklin
Latisha Lala Acklin

Sounds like he lived and died how he wanted. And it sounds like his family hardly knew him, so why would a stranger know what his words meant?!

Trent Dozier
Trent Dozier

Pretty sure I would cash that. Anyone gonna commit suicide is gonna do it no matter what if they are serious

 
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