Max Gumper


ALAMOSA — Max Gumper, 84, died surrounded by loved ones in his home in Grand Junction, CO on January 16, 2021.

The only child of Herbert John and Theta Pearl Gumper – dust bowl entrepreneurs and merchants, Max began his life in Oklahoma but grew up in God’s country - the San Luis Valley, CO.

He is preceded in death by his parents, beloved aunt & uncle, Ralph & Leta Wilcox, and son, Jeff Rivera.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Irene (Irenie Baby) Gumper, and children: Mari Mahanna (Kent Mahanna), Jeremy Rivera (Kerry Masterson), John Gumper (Debbie Gumper), Karen Benesky (Wayne Benesky), & Paul Gumper (Linda Gumper).  Beloved Grandfather, Max is also survived by eleven grandchildren (some with spouses), and his first great-grandbaby due Jan. 30, 2021.

Max, a proud Alamosa High School Maroon graduate, was the first in his family to attend college graduating with an Economics degree from the University of Denver.  Fate brought him back to the valley to carry on the family businesses after his father died in the early 1960s.  Max successfully operated The Round-Up & The Frontier Drive Inns, the La Jara Gambles Store, Gumper’s Fabric Store, and the La Jara Indoor Movie Theater.  A loving family man, Max instilled a solid work-ethic in each of his children affording them plenty of opportunities to make a wage working at the family businesses, picking up trash after movie showings, helping with inventory, and day-to-day tasks at the stores. 

Max also shared his love for the outdoors with his family and could be found on many paths in his life. These included: 26.2-mile marathons, backpacking trails, cross-country & downhill skiing runs, perfect fishing streams & lakes, and road biking routes.  Pioneers of mountain biking in the early 1990’s, Max & Irene pedaled many miles on the roads all over the mountains and valleys of the San Luis Valley.   An avid railroad history buff, Max drug his kids along every railroad track and right-a-away he could find where they would spend hours walking and searching for beloved train treasures.  Evenings around the dinner table or campfire revealed stories rich about Colorado’s mining industry and our country’s Greatest Generation – the WW2 Era.

In 1997, Max and the love-of-his-life, Irene, uprooted and moved to Grand Junction, CO where retirement days were spent on many adventures with new friends from the Grand Junction Outdoor Club, biking club, & dinner club.  Relaxed time also found them visiting their children and grandchildren sometimes on vacations to Alaska, Hawaii, North Carolina, and Florida.  Lovingly called Papa, grandkids delighted in his attendance at their many hockey, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, swimming, lacrosse, scouting events, musical and theatrical performances and of course, yearly extended family outings both camping and skiing.   Papa Max celebrated each grandchild’s educational milestones as well, never missing a high school or college graduation.  Most affectionately, grandkids relished the stories Papa shared about their parents when they were kids – especially about all the times Papa “Let them live” despite their wild teenage antics! 

When medical issues slowed his outdoor adventures, he never complained, simply stated “Been there, done that” when referencing what he no longer could do.  He welcomed the change of lifestyle focusing on good history books, lively conversations with family and friends, visits from the neighborhood dogs, and watching the extensive movie video collection Irene lovingly secured for him.

During his illness, his family assisted with his care and embraced him wholly; enjoying one more story, laugh or life lesson.  These times will resonate in our hearts forever. 

Max believed; WD 40 & grease would fix most things, cars last longer if you drive under the speed limit, & simple living equaled a rich life. His quick wit, dry humor and kind soul will be missed by family and friends alike.  No formal services will be held; however, a private family expedition will occur next summer to ensure Max continues to always enjoy “Positive Vibes.”  Max, God’s speed until we meet again.

To leave a personal message for the family, please visit the following link at Brown’s Mortuary: https://www.brownscremationservice.com/obituary/Max-Gumper

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