Letter to the Editor: Gratitude for the Neil Durco search effort

Neil Durco. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Katwan
Neil Durco. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Katwan

We traveled to Alaska twice in 2019 to visit Neil (Both of us came for the Iceworm Festival; Jay returned alone in September for a weeklong visit.) It was challenging to have a son live so far away from us, but spending time with Neil in Cordova left us with the comfortable feeling that Neil was home. He found a welcoming community where he could be an active participant in its life and where he had a wide circle of friends that became his extended family – and because of the time we spent there they welcomed us into that family.

Three months ago, Neil’s Cordova family also became our community and a critical support system for us. From the first moment that those closest to him realized something wasn’t right when he didn’t return home from a planned overnight hike until today, we are reminded of this.

The energy, concern, compassion, and, yes, love, that went into the search and rescue efforts to find Neil were overwhelming – formal and informal efforts by friends, volunteers, people who knew Neil, and those who only came to know of him during nearly a week of sustained efforts to find him.

Needless to say, the results of the search did not bring us the news we hoped for; prayed for. Rather, our world was turned upside down when Neil was finally found.

Every day still remains heartbreaking for us with this new reality. The hole in our hearts is real.

The blessing and curse of social media allows us to continue to connect, allowing people to express reflections of this light in their lives that was Neil, while at the same time reminding us that his light went out far too soon.


Words are not nearly enough to thank each of you for everything you did for Neil and for us.

With gratitude,

The Family of Neil Durco
Jay and Carolyn
Emily Love Platt
Lizz, Steve, and the boys
John and Kat

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