Denver music fans of the 1990s knew Nick Pomeroy as Rusty Shears, the energetic, memorably monikered frontman for the Garden Weasels, a ska-punk combo devoted to good humor and good times. But there was a lot more than wacky stage antics to Pomeroy, who died of cardiac arrest at age 41 on December 29. (A memorial service is slated for 11 a.m. Saturday, January 19, at Christ the King Episcopal Church, 6490 Carr Street, in Arvada.) According to his younger brother, Andrew, Nick was a multi-faceted figure whose life off the stage was every bit as interesting as the one on it.
Pomeroy's death was even more shocking and unexpected for those close to him because he was a lifelong athlete who always stayed in prime shape. As Andrew notes, the Arvada High grad was a standout member of the North Jeffco Swim Club whose racing prowess earned him a full-ride scholarship to the University of Missouri. "He was the fastest incoming 200 freestyler in the history of the Big Eight," Andrew says.
After leaving Mizzou, Pomeroy returned to Colorado, and in 1990, he founded Recovery Engineering & Sales Company (REASCO), a firm that specialized in heavy metal recovery systems. That description sounds pretty rock and roll, but instead of, say, springing hair-band wailers from rehab, Pomeroy designed and sold what Andrew describes as "a machine that would purify industrial chrome, and it didn't require any chemicals except H2O -- water and electricity."
Even as Pomeroy poured his energy into his business, though, he was drawn toward music -- and the goofier, the better. A couple of years later, the Garden Weasels were born.
"The band was started by accident," Andrew recalls. "We started making silly songs, and the more silly songs we put together about gardening, the more fun we had. And we just kept having fun and having fun and having fun."
The Weasels were soon regulars at area venues, often playing alongside A-list groups of the era such as Carolyn's Mother, whose Rhett Lee, now with Ten Cent Redemption, notified many locals about Nick's death via a post on the Denver Messageboard site. They also put out a gaggle of releases on their own Rodent Records imprint, founded in 1993. Among them was 1997's Lawn Job, which featured a guest appearance by TV anchorman Ernie Bjorkman on a ditty dubbed "Inclement Weather," not to mention the festive holiday ditty "Santa Likes to Garden."
Although the Weasels went on a number of significant tours, gigging in locales as far-flung as Canada, Pomeroy always kept his focus on REASCO. Over the years, his business grew steadily, with many of his most loyal customers based overseas. Fortunately, Pomeroy was comfortable in a wide variety of settings. "He was wicked smart -- the smartest guy I ever knew," Andrew says. "He spoke five languages, and he took me everywhere with him. He did engineering in Africa, Australia, Mexico, Germany."
In this last country, Pomeroy met Sabina, who Andrew describes as Nick's soulmate. They set their wedding for September 12, 2001 -- an ominous date if ever there was one. But the ceremony, which took place in Germany, went forward as scheduled, and by Andrew's reckoning, the match couldn't have been stronger. "I never saw as much love as they had for each other," he points out.
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Once he'd committed himself to Sabina, Pomeroy put the Garden Weasels back in the tool shed and left them there. From that point on, he was all about his marriage and his business, and that's the way it stayed until December 29. Andrew says his death blindsided everyone in Nick's world, him included. "There aren't words in the English language to express the depth of my sorrow," he allows. "The only way we could have been closer is if we were twins. At the end, we were connected on more of a psychic level."
Fortunately, though, Andrew received a sign shortly after Nick's death that has offered him at least a little comfort. Nick and Andrew's dad, an Air Force veteran, died a couple of years earlier, and as the family was mourning his passing, a falcon -- the Air Force mascot -- appeared outside their mother's window and stayed there for much of the day. Then, in the wake of Nick's death, Andrew stopped into a store, and on his way out, "I saw the biggest falcon I'd ever seen in my life. It was just like Nick -- the biggest guy I ever knew."
For more information on the January 19 memorial service, click here. -- Michael Roberts