Few people can marry the love of their life at age 18 and still be married 48+ years later. I consider myself very fortunate to have been Ira’s best friend for that entire period. Ira loved raising our four sons—Josh (Rachael Israel), Adam (Rachel), Aaron (Candice), and Jordan (Kayla Garthwaite)— and watching our family grow.
Just weeks before his death, he held our latest addition, our seventh grandchild, Oliver. Until he lost the ability to use the left side of his body in early January, he enjoyed playing with our older grandchildren— Avram (Avi), Amari, Bode, Asher, Max, and Isabella (Izzy). Our entire family will miss Ira’s love of life and his tremendous positivity.
Ira and I met in 1974 while we were both attending the University of Colorado in Boulder. Since neither one of us wanted a long distance relationship dependent on letter writing and expensive long distance phone calls, we returned to Chicago. At CU, Ira had completed his history degree in 3 1/2 with two honors— magna cum laude and with distinction.
We were married shortly thereafter. In 1978, Ira graduated from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law as a member of the Loyola Law Journal. We lived for 25 years in Illinois. In 2000, we made a midlife decision to improve our quality of life by relocating to Colorado.
In Chicago, Ira handled trials (both jury and non-jury), administrative hearings, arbitrations, and mediations throughout the country. He has also served as an arbitrator, a mediator, and handled appeals in both state and federal appellate courts throughout the country. Martindale Hubbell rated him AV for many decades. He successfully argued before the Illinois and Colorado Supreme Courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States.
Ira was exceptionally proud of the fact that he was licensed in 3 states— Colorado, Illinois and New York. He was also admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Sixth, Seventh and Tenth Circuits, and the U.S. District Courts for the District of Colorado, for the Northern District of Illinois (member of trial bar), for the District of Nebraska, and for the Central District of Illinois and had dozens of reported cases. In 2018, Ira received an invitation to be inducted as a fellow into Construction Lawyers Society of America (CLSA), a prestigious group of 1,200 accomplished construction attorneys. He was an incredible litigator who won far more cases than he lost.
Our travels became more frequent after Ira suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2010 at Keystone Resort. While he still continued to practice law the focus shifted away from stressful complex litigation cases to business and tech law. His love of photography was enhanced when he took the role of photographer for my new brand, The Traveling Bornsteins.
My published travel and lifestyle stories revolved around the plethora of digital images that the two of us took while engaging in active adventures throughout the world. I also enjoyed sharing stories about our adventures in Colorado, especially in Summit County. Over time, my stories gained greater exposure and received numerous NATJA travel writing awards.
In July 2020, Ira was diagnosed with glioblastoma, terminal brain cancer. He successfully coped with the Standard of Care treatments—a craniotomy, 6 weeks of radiation and chemotherapy followed by six months of chemotherapy. Unlike many glioblastoma patients who struggle after the diagnosis and pass away within the first year to year and a half, we skied in 2021 and 2022 and also resumed traveling.
Just weeks before his glioblastoma diagnosis, I signed a contract to write 100 Things to Do in Boulder Before You Die. Due to COVID restrictions and the demands associated with Ira’s care, Reedy Press granted a couple of book extensions. This award-winning book was dedicated to Ira and published in September 2022. Ira insisted that I complete this project even though it took away from our time together. He helped me market the book from October through December.
To bring awareness to terminal brain cancer, Ira and I became ambassadors for the Optune device that he wore on his head for more than two years. Ira was interviewed numerous times by print media, radio and TV journalists. He repeatedly encouraged others to embrace life rather than cancer. Ira’s perseverance and positive mindset inspired others not to give up. For more information visit my For Glio page on the sandrabornstein.com site.
We also raised money for the National Brain Tumor Society by participating in the organization’s annual Colorado walk last fall. Our family’s team—Keep Moving; No Regrets raised close to $19,000, the second highest total for the event. Our family proudly walked around Denver’s Sloan Lake to draw attention to brain tumors. On September 23, we will walk in Ira’s memory. Please consider supporting our team by making a contribution. You can use this link to access our team page.
For 2 1/2 years, Ira was fortunate to have a remarkable quality of life, something few glioblastoma patients are able to accomplish. From early 2021 until April of this year, we traveled throughout the world. Sometimes COVID restrictions made these journeys more challenging.
Ira did not let his glioblastoma diagnosis stop him from leading an active life or engaging in the things that he loved. We went horseback riding in the winter at Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado. At Arizona’s Civana Wellness Resort and Spa, we tried aerial yoga. We jumped on mini trampolines and hiked up steep rock faces at Red Mountain Resort in Utah. During the winter months, Ira skied down challenging slopes and snowshoed at altitude.
He enjoyed snorkeling while vacationing in the Caribbean, Florida, and Hawaii. Waterfall hikes were his top pick during our Silversea Cruises intensive summer sailing around Iceland. Our experiences in The Retreat aboard Celebrity’s Apex and Edge cruise ships stand out as stellar memories. Ira’s favorite vacation was our May 2022 Israel My Way trip to Israel. During that trip, we had the incredible opportunity to meet Professor Yoram Palti, the inventor of the Optune device and a recipient of the 2022 Israel Prize.
In January 2023, An inoperable tumor in his thalamus was detected. This aggressive tumor caused an avalanche of debilitating symptoms. New rounds of radiation, chemotherapy, Avastin and medicinal cannabis were unable to stop the cancer cells from destroying his brain.
After waging a courageous battle against glioblastoma for almost 3 years, Ira Jeffrey Bornstein passed away on July 21.
Ira’s motto — Keep Moving; No Regrets — will not be forgotten.
Ira is survived by Sandy, and their 4 sons – Joshua Bornstein (Rachael Israel), Adam Bornstein (Rachel Spatt Bornstein), Aaron Bornstein (Candice), Jordan Bornstein (Kayla Garthwaite) and 7 grandchildren- Avram, Amari, Bode, Asher, Max, Isabella, and Oliver. He is also survived by his mother, Shirley (Dickler) Bornstein, and 4 brothers, Bruce Bornstein (Maureen), Ian Bornstein, Scott Bornstein (Ruth), & Mitchell Bornstein.
Funeral services were held in Boulder, Colorado. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the National Brain Tumor Society, Baskin Jewish Community Chaplaincy Program, or Collier Hospice Hospital.
Excerpts from Rabbi Sarah Bracha Gershuny’s Eulogy at Boulder’s Congregation Bonai Shalom
Ira Bornstein was himself such a man: an ethical man, an upright man, with a clear internal compass – a man who would do what he knew to be right and just, and was not concerned what others thought about that. A modest man, and humble, who enjoyed life’s wholesome, simple pleasures. A family man, a man who loved the outdoors – who, planted like a tree besides streams of water, flourished and showed his strength and goodness, and who brought forth fruits which have themselves now born fruit.His life was, in many ways, exemplary.
During the eulogy, Rabbi Sarah read a letter that Ian, one of Ira’s brothers, sent to me when Ira was losing his eyesight in the spring. Here is one paragraph from that letter.
I guess that ultimately nobody is stronger than GBM. It seems that is the reality of the condition. But here I have to state that you beat it back for three incredible years. Dear Brother that is both amazing and commendable. It is a testament to your physical, emotional, and psychological strength. A testament to your desire to live. And live you have indeed done. GBM is both heartless and unrelenting. But you have been unrelenting as well. You have never wavered in your approach to this invincible foe. I deeply admire you for how you have continued to live your life with GBM. You should be an inspiration to your family. You have never stopped being the person that you wanted to be.
Many people have expressed their condolences after hearing about Ira’s death. I am sharing a selection on this page as a tribute to Ira’s memory. If you’d like to add a condolence, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are sad to receive the news of Ira’s passing and grateful you let us know. We understand what a journey it has been for you and your family to confront and battle a diagnosis of glioblastoma. Nothing is harder…Ira and you were so brave and beat the odds with almost three years of life together. You amazed everyone…
Ira was blessed to have an amazing and devoted wife as well as a beautiful family and grandchildren. He loved and was loved…
With our love and deepest sympathy. May Ira’s memory be a blessing…Linda and Neill Brownstein
The service was a beautiful, heartfelt, and very touching tribute to Ira’s memory, which is for a blessing. Dr. Neal Dickler
Dear Sandra – I am so sorry about your profound loss. You and Ira modeled how to live a rich and meaningful life, as well as how to live a rich and meaningful end of life. Sending you our deepest condolences. Baruch Dayan Emet. Best regards – Sara Basson
Hi Sandy, I was so saddened when I received this email. I know that you and Ira had and will continue to have such a beautiful love story. Grace and I watched the beautiful service this morning. The words from Jordan and Adam were very moving. I know that you are extremely proud of your family. Our thought and prayers are with you and your family during this time of mourning. Love, Stacie Brown
Oh Sandy. Nobody fought harder than Ira. Your dedication to his well being was so evident, and I truly believe that is what kept him going. I hope your memories with him will bring some solace to your life, and of course watching your seven grandchildren grow. Good luck to you; thanks for keeping us updated on his progress. We are grateful we had the opportunity to meet him. Love, Jody & Mark New
Sandra, our deepest condolences. Ira was a remarkable man with many impressive contributions and I loved reading your tribute and seeing all the photos of you two through the years. I did not realize you had been together for so long. I hope you are holding up as well as can be expected. Sincerely, Anna DeBattiste, Public Information Officer, Summit County Rescue Group
Dear Sandra, Josh, Adam, Aaron & Jordan, I’m so sorry to hear about Ira’s passing. I had the blessing of getting to know him a little bit this past month, he was a giant of the spirit. You and your families were everything to him, and I can’t begin to imagine the void that his passing has created for all of you. Sincerely, Rabbi Mendel
Dear Sandy, It is with such sadness that I write to you following Ira’s death. You and Ira (ז”ל) were an inspiration as you both courageously encountered Ira’s terrible illness. Most people I know who were so inflicted responded just with despair and anger. You and Ira faced his illness with the determination that you would fight to conquer the disease or, at least, use the time from the onset of his illness to derive the very most from life. With courage, you enjoyed meaningful time together, even though the time for enjoying life was so indefinite. You accompanied him in experiences that brought joy when total despair could have overwhelmed your spirits. Sandy, I am repeating your own words expressed in your email written after Ira died.
As you said, you married the love of your life and together you enjoyed life as long as you could. That is what all of us need to do. The positivity he showed in these past months and years of his illness must serve you as an example of what you must now do for yourself. By showing that same positivity and determination, you will give a gift to your children and grandchildren so they, too, will have some idea of how to go forward when faced with adversity. To honor Ira for his courage and his love for you, you and your family will need to make a poster or picture so his words will always be in your thoughts. “Keep Moving; No Regrets will not be forgotten.”
I know that this is a most difficult time for you and your family, but I hope you will all find the strength to balance your mourning Ira’s death with a celebration of the significant and inspiring life that he lived. By celebrating his life and speaking of his strength, you find he is always present with you, guiding you along your next steps in life.
I would like to conclude by expressing my admiration for you, Sandy. Motivated by your love that spirited your relationship with Ira throughout the years of your marriage, you were the soul mate and help mate that enhanced the life of Ira. You will only enhance and extend those wonderful years together by allowing your memories of 48+ years of marriage to overwhelm the feelings of sadness that you experienced during this period of illness and are now experiencing in mourning his passing. Time does not heal. The healing force comes from the many years without illness and the 48+ years of life versus this intense period of sadness caused by death. Allow the memories of the goodness of your marriage in and they will allow you to feel Ira’s presence as an actual presence in all you do.
המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים
May God comfort you and your family among the rest of those who are mourners among the people of Israel.With love, Bill. (Rabbi William Lebeau)
Baruch Dayan HaEmet. A lovely man who lived a loving life. My warmest embrace to each in the family. Watched the service this morning. What a powerful and lovely tribute. so many words spoken but the boys lift his spirit an brought him to life in a palpable way. Their characteristics and mannerisms also will keep him so close to all of you. Wishing you a true healing, which doe not imply wholeness, as you will always been depleted in a significant way, but I do wish you healing. Cantor Steve Stoehr
Sandy, Baruch dayan haemet. Shabbat just ended here in the UK and I saw the announcement about Ira’s passing. I am so sorry for your loss and wish you and the family much strength and comfort as you begin the hard journey of grieving. Ira was so strong and courageous and loyal and his memory will surely always be a blessing.I can be a resource from afar if needed and will certainly be in touch when I return. Many blessings Rabbi Marc
On the one hand I am very sad to see this but on the other hand he was so courageous and none of us wanted to see him suffer any longer. My wonderful memories of Ira start way back when he was part of the legal team for our large case that went to trial in Chicago. Not only was he a brilliant lawyer but he had a sense of humor and was a pleasure to work with. Our great result on that case had a lot to do with his hard work.
I am glad I had a couple of meaningful conversations with him in the rehab center. You have been amazing in all you have done for him and I know he was so appreciative.Our condolences to you and the entire family but what a wonderful legacy he left behind. Marsha and I are thinking about you. Warm and Sad Regards, Gary and Marsha Blum
Nancy and I are so sorry to hear this and our sympathies, thoughts and condolences are with you and your family. Ira was a wonderful person and he’ll be sorely missed by all those who knew him.
I know how difficult this journey has been. But your devotion and commitment for him is a testament to your strength and determination, and your deep and enduring love for him. John and Nancy Bernstein (Lawyer Kutok & Rock)
Oh Sandy, I’m so sorry. As usual, you come to mind just days before you write to me. I’ve been thinking about you and Ira a lot. You two took a tragic diagnosis and turned it into something people learned from and were inspired by in so many ways. And how fortunate for you both that you had each other and lived such a full and happy life. My husband James and I send our love and condolences to you and your entire family. Courtney McDonough, Publisher and Managing Editor Real Food Traveler
Hi Sandy, My heart broke for you two as I read your email. I am so, so, so sorry that his end of life is so painful and horrific. Dr. Jessie Voigts, Publisher Wandering Educators
Condolences to you and the Bornstein family. I’m going to be in Denver early Aug and was hoping to see Ira on that visit. I have nothing but good memories of him. Best regards, Karen Jones (Ira’s best secretary)
Sandy- I am so sorry to hear about Ira. My condolences on your loss. We worked together in Chicago. His good cheer and spirit always abounded. Mitch Macknin (Lawyer)
Oh no. I am shattered, as I am sure you are. My memory of the two of you will always be how I met you at Mi’ad’s.
I am so sorry for you, Sandy, and sending you a big hug. There is one silver lining here – you two knew about his condition, and at least you lived life to the fullest as a couple, especially in his last few years. My sincere condolences to you, your children and grandchildren. Yoav and Israel My Way Team
Dear sweet Sandy –I am so sorry to learn about your sad news of the loss of your precious Ira. I actually saw your email come through when I was on a road trip with my husband, and I have thought about you SO MUCH these past few days.
My heart is with you, Sandy, and I hope that in time you will find comfort from all the happy memories… and in knowing that Ira’s suffering has ended and that now he is truly with God.
You may not realize this, but you are such an inspiration. I am so grateful that I met you and Ira and that I was able to create a small but enjoyable experience for your bank of memories that you can treasure forever. With love and a big hug… Beverly Silva, Museum of Boulder
Sandy, I’ve thought of you often this summer. I’m so sorry to hear of Ira’s passing. I married my soulmate when we were 17 and 18 so I can only imagine your loss. Keeping you in my thoughts. I’ll make a donation in Ira’s honor. Susan Lanier Graham, Wander With Wonder Founder
Sandra,I’m so sorry to hear this news. Thank you for sharing this touching and beautiful tribute to Ira. You and your family are in our prayers during this sad and difficult time. Take care, Mary Beth Stevens (Reedy Press)
Dear Ms Bornstein, I am very sorry to learn of the passing of Mr Bornstein. He was truly a wonderful man and an inspiration to all who knew him. Thank you for letting me know. I will miss him. Dr. Dave Fullerton, UC Health Anschutz
I am so sorry for your loss. Ira will be missed by many as you know.Dr. Ben Keidan, Boulder Community Hospital
Sandra, My prayers are with you. He is now in comfort and peace. His motivation and resolve is a guide for all of us. May peace be with you, Dr. Rob Quaife, UC Health Anschutz
I will always remember Ira’s strong will, grit, and determination. His amazing attitude was never failing. It was a pleasure, for a short time, getting to know the strong person he was. We will forever be in your debt that you allowed us to be a small part of his care and his journey. I hope you find peace in good memories. If there is anything that we can do for you or your family in the future, please let us know. Best, Dr. Doug Ney, UC Health Anschutz
Dear Sandy, You have been in my thoughts these past few weeks. My deepest condolences for you and your family.
I know it is of minimal consolation, but Ira lived nearly twice as long as the average GBM patient. Much of that time, he enjoyed a wonderful quality of life. He was also incredibly blessed to have you as a life partner, especially during these last months. Again, please accept my deepest sympathies. Dr.David Reardon, Dana Farber
Sandy, first and foremost, my deep condolences for your loss. You are correct that this is a brutal disease that we have made little progress over the past several decades and have very few treatments that are successful. that said, we will never stop trying to lessen the pain and suffering from this tumor. My prayers and thoughts are with you. If I can ever do anything for you please let me know. Dr. Mitch Berger, UCSF
Sandy, My deepest condolences to you and your family for the passing of Ira. He was a special man and you were lucky to have each other. My apologies for not being able to attend his service…thanks for sharing his eulogy. I know he will be in your heart forever. Hope to see you soon. Warmest regards, Dr. Cliff Litvak, Dentist
I just wanted to say that I am so sorry for your loss. It was an honor getting to know you and Ira during your time at Rehab Without Walls. My thoughts are with you and your family. Siobhan Nelson, OT
Thoughts and prayers to you and your family. We are lucky to have known Ira. Kayla Smith, OT