In Memory of David Colburn
The Best Thing I Never Planned
Submitted by Kimberly Stebbins, David's fiancée
David had a carefree, let’s-do-it attitude. True to his spirit, in the fall of 2019 he and I loaded up the Vanagon and set out to raft the Tieton River. We had watched videos online and read up on the river before heading out but it was important to us that we raft the unknown with another person who was familiar with the river. Our boating friends either weren’t available that weekend or had never done the river. What to do? David, being the kind of guy that can make friends with anyone, decided we should van camp near the put in and play it by ear. We drove up on Friday night and, come Saturday morning, we drove down to the put in. We started loading up our gear in hopes of finding a river partner. What’s great about the boating community is someone always comes along. While gearing up, a couple approached us. They had forgotten one of their life jackets and they were hoping we had an extra. We did. We were hoping they were experienced. They were. A boating friendship was made.
The Tieton trip is one of my favorite trips. On the way to the river, David spotted two separate fires and reported them, always the firefighter, and it’s the only trip we combined rafting with our love of the van life. David was my adventure partner and my future. I will forever hold the memories we created close to my heart. “He is the best thing I never planned.”
In Memory of David Colburn
Adapted from David’s obituary written by his daughter Vivianna
David truly worked hard to play hard. He centered his work around service to others, through his faith, the postal service, and the Tygh Valley Rural Fire Protection District. He was always brave and ready for adventure. He climbed Mt. St. Helens, backpacked through Europe, Ecuador, and India, drove his van around Canada and Mexico, and rafted every chance he got. Planning on retiring soon, he was studying to be a pilot and looking at houses in Italy, ranches in Argentina, and boats to sail on the Mediterranean.
David could be friends with anyone, always ready to laugh or listen. To this day he maintained genuine friendships from childhood. His family and friends meant the world to him. He was a devoted, understanding, and an absolutely fun dad to his daughter and light of his life, Vivianna. She described him in his obituary as “full of empathy, kindness, braveness, generosity, diligence, integrity, and justice.”
The rafting community lost a friend when David experienced a tragic fall while hiking during a Grand Canyon rafting adventure. This was his first time to boat the Colorado in the Grand Canyon. He died doing what he loved - exploring our beautiful world.
Sending sympathy and care for David’s friends and loved ones. Also sending care to David’s last group of boating friends, those who were with him on the Grand Canyon that fateful day.
Photos submitted by Kimberly Stebbins