Snowmobiler killed in avalanche was Colorado businessman, family man

A snowmobiler killed in a Grand County avalanche was a successful real estate investor who took to the high country Sunday to snowmobile with his son.

Michael “Tony” Westall, 58, of Parker, died when he was caught in an avalanche west of Rollins Pass. Westall met one of his three sons Sunday morning in Empire to hook up for a day of snowmobiling.

“He always wanted to spend time with his family, he always wanted to spend time with his kids,” said Byron Nix, Westall’s cousin, business partner and best friend.

A 1980 graduate of Douglas County High School, Westall and Nix grew up together in the metro area, at one point becoming neighbors as adults.

“Tony and I have been close since we were kids,” said Nix, who is five years younger. In their youth, Westall would pick Nix up and the cousins would go to the “dollar” movies.

“What high school kid takes his cousin, who is five years younger, to the movies? Tony and I just had a special relationship,” Nix said.

Westall earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Colorado State University. In the 1990s, he entered the “phone systems” business, buying and selling space on the 900 MHz band, setting up phone networks and providing phones and services to customers, Nix said. Later on, Westall and Nix became partners in real estate, buying and selling properties.

A machine enthusiast, Westall enjoyed riding motorcycles, water jet skis and snowmobiles. Nix and Westall, as part of their inseparable pattern, both own a 1983 Toyota Celica GTS.

As business partners, the pair made charitable contributions to The Morgan Adams Foundation, which funds children cancer research, and Project ReCycle, which services and provides bicycles to those in need, among other non-profits and charitable organizations.

“Tony was just the nicest, guy, the most generous guy,” Nix said.

Westall is survived by his wife, Janey; three sons, Reed, Ryan and Tyler; and a daughter, MacKenzie. Services are pending.

Nix and Westall talked every day, that included Sunday morning on the phone, before the avalanche.

“We talked yesterday, a bit business, and life, about whatever,” Nix recalled. “I’m still in shock. This is a lot to deal with.”

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