Moffat County’s Mike Brinks lived life large, will be missed by many | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County’s Mike Brinks lived life large, will be missed by many

He was a big guy, with a bigger personality, but what made Mike Brinks memorable, to those who were lucky enough to know him, was his big heart.

"He cared deeply about Craig, he spoke about it with passion," said close friend Bill Hobson.

The community lost a champion when the Yampa River took James Michael Brinks on July 15 during a river trip.

"I'm still reeling from it, but he passed doing what he loved to do. That's one thing that makes me feel good," said wife of 36 years Suzanne Brinks.

Brinks was a husband, father, grandfather, athlete, businessman, Kiwanian, Parrot Head, elected official and accountant. His greatest role is likely being a friend to his family, his neighbors and his community.

"He took the role of friendship to the highest level that I've ever experienced," said County Coroner, Chiropractor and friend Kirk McKey.

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Brinks moved to Craig with his parents when he was 5 years old. A talented football player, he was part of the 1967 team, the only team from Moffat County High School to play in the state championship. They lost one game that season to Julesburg in the finals.

"Mike was an excellent lineman as well as a great guy overall," said former Moffat County High School Classmate Thomas Witham in an email he sent the newspaper on Wednesday.

After graduating from Moffat County High School in 1968, Brinks received a football scholarship to Bringham Young University, but he transferred to St. Mary's College of California where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Economics in 1972.

While at St. Mary's the football star learned rugby so that he could travel to London and Paris with the rugby team. After college, Brinks returned to Craig working in the wholesale plumbing and pipe supply business for ten years, first for a national company then in his own business.

Outside of work he shared his passion for rugby with others and was responsible for developing the sport in Northwest Colorado, Hobson said.

After closing the business in 1983, Brinks went to work for CPA Jack Bonaker and commuted to Grand Junction to take accounting classes at Mesa College, qualifying as a CPA in 1990. He later left the firm to become the Director of Finance for Moffat County School District.

Described by brother-in-law Bill Pennell as "a smart man. A person of magnificent integrity," they enjoyed trading books on history.

"He had a great curiosity about things. He was always reading, learning," said Robin Herring. Herring met Brinks on a Split Mountain river trip about 25 years ago.

Running rivers became a passion for Brinks and those who rafted with him said that he tackled each river, each rapid fearlessly, and with a great deal of humor.

"The very first day he wrapped his boat on a rock. The boat comes floating by camp. When we caught up with the boat the whole floor was ripped," recalled Monty Roberts about running the Middle Fork of the Salmon River with Brinks.

Unable to repair the boat Brinks ran it anyway.

"His brother David was helping him. David fell over backwards and fell right through the bottom of the boat. Mike didn't miss a beat, he picked David up and dragged him back into the boat," Roberts said.

Rather notorious for flipping his boat, Brinks boat motto was "sit down, shut up and hang on," Pennell said.

Brinks colorful character was often reflected in his colorful shirts.

"Hawaiian shirts came from rugby. Tie-dyed came from the river," Hobson said.

On July 15, Brinks hit a rock in Tepee Rapid, with the inflatable kayak he was using to navigate the low water. The kayak capsized, and Brinks, who was wearing a personal floatation device, never resurfaced.

In death, he will always be connected to the river he loved, and many others have also learned to love the Yampa because of him.

"We heard story after story, in different ways, that he was largely responsible for getting a whole lot of people into rafting," said friend John Husband.

Those who would like to do so, may support Brinks' love of the river by donating, in his memory, to The Diversion Park Project of The Northwest Colorado Chapter of Parrot Heads in care of Grant Mortuary.

The community will celebrate Mike Brink's life at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Center of Craig. His family has asked those who attend to wear Hawaiian or tie-dyed shirts "no black."

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

Service to the community

• Represented District 3 on the Yampa Valley Electric Association Board of Directors from 2011 to 2017

• Finance director for Moffat County School District from 1994 to 2006

• Craig Kiwanis Club member for 33 years and club treasurer for 29 of those years

• Moffat County United Way board member for 12 years and treasurer for 11 of those years

• Moffat County Finance Corporation board for 10 years

• Served on the citizen’s budget advisory committee for three years

• Served the board of the Moffat County Schools Federal Credit Union for 19 years

• Founding member and served as treasure of the Northwest Colorado Chapter of the Parrot Heads.

Celebration of life

Suzanne Brinks, family and friends, invite anybody who knew Mike and would like to come to attend a celebration of him and his life.

When: 1 p.m., Sunday

Where: The Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave.

Dress code: Casual. No black please. Instead wearing Hawaiian or tie-dyed shirts is encouraged.

Instead of flowers: Donations may be made to The Diversion Park Project of The Northwest Colorado Chapter of Parrot Heads in care of Grant Mortuary.