My Classmate and a Great Man: Remembering Kyle Forti (1989-2019)

One of my friends passed away yesterday. Kyle John Forti was born two months before me, graduated from Hillsdale College the same day that I did, and offered me a job in 2013. He fostered children, founded at least two political strategy organizations in my birth state of Colorado, and was raising a young son of his own, Max. He died at the age of 29, in a helicopter crash in Kenya on vacation. In his short 29 years, he managed to promote civility in politics, help his wife found a foster care organization, and touch the hearts of many.

The Psalmist wrote, "Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). Kyle Forti numbered his days and filled them with good deeds. I did not know him well, but what I knew was always positive.

On his Facebook page, Kyle Forti has this powerful quote: "Rage, rage against the dying of the light." The quote comes from a poem by Dylan Thomas entitled, "Do not go gentle into that good night." He didn't.

Kyle made the most of his short life, and the tributes from all sides of Colorado politics make that abundantly clear.

"Kyle Forti was a prolific figure in Colorado Republican politics," Peter Marcus, a former Colorado Springs Gazette reporter and personal friend, told the Denver Post. "There are not enough good words for Kyle. Kyle dedicated his entire career making a better Republican Party. He ran a lot of Republican campaigns."

"Kyle Forti was an intelligent, thoughtful, curious, creative, sensitive and spiritual man who enriched so man lives, including my own," Colorado GOP Chairman Jeff Hays said. "As a consultant, he was instrumental in the success of numerous campaigns and causes dear to countless Republicans across Colorado. We stand with his family during this difficult time and offer our prayers for his wife Hope and son Max."

Democrats also praised him.

"We were from completely different sides of the aisle but he had a certain grace about the way that he did his work," state Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont), said on the Colorado House Floor Monday morning, The Colorado Sun reported. "He saw that we needed to take care of all of our kids, especially the kids who didn’t get a first chance — let alone a second chance."

"Our political system is less well off than it was last week," Ben Waters, a Democratic Party lobbyist, told the Denver Post. "Kyle was one of a kind and I mean this in every single way. He had an amazing life. Whether you were a Democrat or Republican, he was someone you wanted to be with."

"Kyle’s legacy will continue to live through the lives he’s influenced. He achieved what so many of us hope to do, he made a profound difference in this world," tweeted Jeff Hunt, president of the Centennial Institute. "He was a force for good in our culture. He was a bright light of compassion, peace, strength, kindness and love."

Kyle Forti graduated from Hillsdale College in 2012. After school, he worked as a media tracker, managed Owen Hill's campaign for the U.S. Senate, became the president of Peak Political Solutions, and founded D/CO, a corporate and political PR firm. He and his wife, Hope, became foster parents after the birth of their son. In 2018, Hope Forti founded Foster Together Colorado, a fostering non-profit that matches foster families with supporters in their neighborhoods.

Kyle was visiting a friend in Kenya, where he had gone for the first time. A GoFundMe campaign for his family has already raised $22,800, and a Facebook fundraiser for Foster Together Colorado has raised nearly $6,000. No amount of money can replace the wonderful man, husband, and father he was, but mourners can give at either of those links.

I did not know Kyle Forti very well in college, but my friend and former roommate Blake Faulker shared a story about him. Blake and Kyle were suite-mates in their freshman year.

He was among the first to push me away from my simple and crude ideas about politics and Christianity, even while both of us remained devoutly Christian and unflappably conservative. He always spoke so civilly, warmly, humorously, and yet with great personal strength, every bit as much a passionate member of human affairs as he was a sharp and invigorating intellect (no doubt from his debate days).

I salute you Kyle, and I weep for your family. Let us mourn with those who mourn.

When former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) was considering a run for governor in the 2014 cycle, Kyle Forti reached out to me in September 2013. He was looking for an assistant to Tancredo's consultant, and he jokingly offered me the job over Facebook messenger. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), now a candidate for the 2020 presidential race, won re-election that year. I wonder what would have happened if I had taken that job, and worked with Kyle back in Colorado.

Instead, I stayed in the Washington, D.C., area and met my wife. As my wife and I are expecting our first child in June, my heart breaks for Hope Forti and little Max. Let us mourn with those who mourn and send all we can to help them — prayers and donations.

To honor Kyle Forti, let's treat our political opponents with respect and civility. Colorado — and the United States — needed him, so let's do our best to fill that gap.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.