Colorado Springs mourns the loss of “Chip Monk” | New

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For more than a dozen years, Martin Camarata, the “Chip Monk,” peddled the clarity of a beefy 1993 suburban blue parked at the edge of the Mason Jar lot on the west side of Colorado Springs.

If they were up for a chat, customers who stopped by his mobile workshop for a windshield repair also had a friendly chat and some hard-earned information – about dogs, fly fishing, hunting, hiking and the importance of a healthy lifestyle, a passion that seemed to underlie all of Camarata’s many others.

“Every day my dad would wake up in the morning, lift weights and walk at least five miles,” said Vastin, Camarata’s 22-year-old son. “I never saw him eat sweets and he was a vegetarian. He was just an absolute beacon of health when it comes to exercise and diet.”

Despite the attention he pays to his health, Camarata suffered a fatal heart attack on September 22, after hiking one of his favorite trails in Section 16 of Gold Camp Road in southwest Colorado Springs. . He was walking alone, slightly off track, when he collapsed. Vastin said it was a “miracle” the hikers found him and called the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office as soon as they did.

“You can basically see where he worked – and literally see where he died – from here,” said Vastin, sitting on the patio of the Starbucks at 31st and Colorado Avenue on a sunny afternoon earlier this month.

He pointed to the foothills of the Southern Front Range.

“Do you see the three layers of peaks?” The second peak is where he was and he died pretty much instantly… there at the top at sunset. I’m so glad he didn’t suffer. He had a great view of the top of the mountain, ”said Vastin. “That’s what my father would have wanted. … “

One day, however. Not at 56.

Too often, however, this is how heart disease kills.

“It can happen at any time. That’s what scares people about heart disease, ”said Dr Michael Kim, a doctor at Penrose-St. Francis Hospital specializing in cardiovascular disease.

And a healthy lifestyle, especially for people at genetic risk, is no guarantee.

Martin Camarata was born in Texas and studied corporate finance at Texas A&M University, then at the University of Houston before moving north to a state he fell in love with as a child.

“My grandfather took him and my grandmother here on a guided fly fishing trip when my father was around 10 years old,” Vastin said. “My father said he decided the first time he came here that he was going to live here when he was an adult.”

As soon as he moved to the Centennial State, Camarata gave in to his love for the outdoors, working as a fly fishing guide for Angler’s Covey for about a decade from the 1990s and spending so much of his time free in nature. as he could.

“He’s been traveling everywhere, rock climbing statewide, hiking statewide, fly-fishing every body of water he can. Any body of water in general in Colorado that has trout, it’s fly-fished, ”Vastin said. “He was a dry fly purist and he really taught me to respect not only wildlife in general, but fish as well. He taught me how to save our German brown trout and let go of any trophy-sized fish, pack what I pack. He taught me how to leave the environment as we came.

Camarata ran his own real estate agency for some time around the turn of the millennium before turning to a career in construction. When he was laid off following the financial collapse of 2008, he decided it was time to “be his own boss,” Vastin said.

Camarata traveled to Seattle for a crash course in rock chip repair, then returned to Springs to practice what he had learned.

The new business was a perfect fit for more than one reason.

“He’s an environmentalist. He always said that every chip he fixed would be a windshield that wasn’t in a landfill, ”Vastin said. “My father was a very free spirit. He loved to talk with people, share stories and listen to people’s experiences. He loved his job, he loved his clients and he loved people. In a way, he treated everyone like it was his last day, every day.

That last day came before anyone expected, at a place Camarata loved to recommend to those who shared his love of hiking the Southern Front Range.

“It’s also such a miracle that he didn’t take the dogs out,” said Vastin, whose father often took his two beloved German Shepherds, Blaze and Engle, to work and on his many adventures. “His death was very unexpected. There was a family history of heart disease … but my dad had no symptoms.

Vastin believes his father’s healthy lifestyle was, in part, an attempt to ward off family illness. He also believes his life could have been saved by a simple checkup that doctors recommend, especially for people his age who have a family history of coronary heart disease.

Dr Michael Kim said risk assessment is complicated, but awareness – and online assessment tools that consider lifestyle, age, gender and other health factors existing – can help physicians and patients decide on preventive and potentially life-saving next steps.

“Once you get past the age of 40, up to the age of 50, that’s when this tool becomes incredibly important, especially for those who don’t have a significant medical history, who are otherwise healthy but may have a family history of coronary artery disease, ”Kim said.“ Most people over 40, even if they take good care of them. ‘themselves, slip into borderline low risk. “

Vastin cannot know what could have happened if his father had known his risks.

He believes he would have embraced a legacy that includes a message that could help others. Help them appreciate the amazing place they live. And, perhaps, live to appreciate it.

“He was such a nice and talkative man. He gave everything so that I could be happy and prosper, ”said Vastin, who now works in retail at Angler’s Covey and hopes eventually to follow his father’s path – as a fly fishing guide and in as Chip Monk.

His father had always told him that this would be the perfect job to do while he was finishing his studies. He could earn money, have the time to study while maintaining those connections that not only kept a person in business, but also kept them grounded and connected to what matters.

“He was just such a good role model. I won’t let him down, ”Vastin said.

His post about his father’s death on social media site NextDoor drew more than 200 comments.

Vastin personally responded to almost everyone.

A Service of Life celebration is at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Space Foundation, 4425 Arrowswest Drive in Colorado Springs.


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