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R.I.P. Felix Belmont

J.T. Thomas

Felix Belmont, 104, just died, but his legacy of caring about public radio KVNF will live on. His zeal was legendary, talking local banks and co-signers out of loans for the station in its early, shaky decades, and convincing listeners every pledge drive that community radio was absolutely essential to all of our lives.

Felix had a gruff charm, liked a good story, and was always fun company. He was also amazingly healthy but straightforward about how annoying aging could be, both mentally and physically. He once told me that nobody over 70 should be president. But somehow, though his walking got wonky as he neared 100, he seemed not to get much older than, say 80, or maybe the new 90. It's hard to tell these days.

His mind stayed sharp and he was engaged in the world, so that he began to embody a walking miracle.

There came a 99th birthday, a 100th put on by the station that was a blowout of love and support for him. But life seemed not the same after his adored wife, Pauline, died.

For many of us, it was a privilege to get to know him and to catch his passion for public radio and the people who made it happen. I think he thought of listeners to KVNF as collaborators in an ongoing community saga.

By any definition, he was a lucky man. He retired as a business executive back East, but once he and Pauline moved to the North Fork Valley, he plunged into helping to found KVNF, in 1979 and never lost his love of the station. And when it finally came time for the station to expand to new headquarters in an airy and now beautiful building in downtown Paonia, Felix led the charge. It bears his name: The Belmont Building.

It makes me happy to feel that his legacy lives on in every minute of KVNF's 24-hour broadcast day. What a community builder, what an inspiration he was!

Thank you, Felix, Godspeed.

—Written by Betsy Marston