The Boulder community this week is mourning the loss of two friends killed in a crash on Diagonal Highway on Monday night.
Friends and family say Brock Borman, 56, and David Vollmar, 53, were heading home from their regular trip to Longmont to play table tennis when the car they were riding in was involved in a two-vehicle crash. It was a sport both men played at a high level, and they were very competitive.
“When we first met, when he first moved into the neighborhood, he would talk about table tennis, and I asked, ‘What is table tennis?’” Vollmar’s girlfriend, Tammy Richards, said. “So he showed me a video, and I said, ‘Oh, ping pong. He was like, ‘It is not ping pong.’ He takes it very seriously. So I asked him, ‘You’re telling me if we were at a bar, and they want to play around the world, you won’t play? He said, ‘No. Well, maybe I’d play with my left hand.’”
And so Vollmar and Borman were playing table tennis on Monday night, probably until closing time as they usually did.
“That’s where he was coming home from that night,” Richards said. “They just didn’t make it home.”
‘He just loved people so much’
In addition to playing table tennis together, Borman was Vollmar’s tennis coach, and the two had known each other for more than 20 years.
“They were friends for years,” Richards said.
In addition to tennis and table tennis, Borman was also a nationally ranked player and an ambassador for a sport called platform tennis, which is played on a smaller court surrounded by a cage. He also had recently picked up the game of golf. If it involved hitting a ball with a stick of some sort, odds are Borman was good at it.
“He was such a great athlete, he could do anything,” said Borman’s friend, Steve Filmer.
But while he was a fierce competitor, friends said Borman had a wicked sense of humor, often manifesting itself in photoshopped images of himself and his friends.
“He’s one of the funniest individuals you would ever meet,” Filmer said. “And when you combine his sense of humor and his skill with photoshop … He was just really really good at capturing and bringing out the humor in things.”
Filmer said Borman was a rarity in today’s world, a man who would rather show up at your front door than send a text or an email. Even one announcing his visit.
“He just loved people so much, I think he would rather beg for forgiveness than ask for permission if he really wanted to see a person,” Filmer said. “It’s a quality that was so rare these days;, he just wanted to be around people and he was so good at it.”
The day he was killed, Eamonn McNaughton said Borman made one of those visits to his home and ribbed him for not finishing a studio in his backyard.
“He was an old school kind of guy; if he was in the neighborhood, he’d stop by, no text, no call,” said McNaughton, who played in Borman’s platform tennis league. “He’d just come by to say hello and wind up hanging for an hour or two … He would rip on you a little bit. Just an overall great guy.”
Filmer said he and Borman had a golf tee time this week, and knowing his friend would not be there was emotional.
“You always think you’re going to have more time,” Filmer said. “But Brock lived like five lifetimes when it comes to contact with people. He made people feel so special, he actually invested time in all the people around him, and he was very loved.
“He just lived such a rich life, I feel grateful to have known him. I think all the people he was friends with would agree with that.”
‘He was never anyone but himself’
Most who knew Vollmar knew him as Kavika rather than David, a nickname born out of necessity and a trip to Polynesia.
“We had our honeymoon in the Cook Islands, and he was working in an office where like half of the people were named David,” Vollmar’s ex-wife, Angelique Espinoza, said. “He chose Kavika because that’s how you spell David in Polynesia, we had just gotten back from this wonderful place, and it just stuck.”
Vollmar was born in Germany, but came over to visit Colorado as part of an exchange program — and of course play some table tennis — and eventually wound up calling Boulder home.
“He fully intended to go back to Germany,” Espinoza said. “But he got here, to this beautiful place … He loved the mountains, and the natural world. He was a big environmentalist, he loved hiking and skiing and mountain biking and really anything that involved being in the mountains.”
Espinoza said their 20-year-old son, Luka, is currently on a memorial backpacking trip to commemorate his father.
“They were really close, they were really, really close,” Espinoza said. “He was the best dad.”
Vollmar worked as a software engineer first for a startup called Gnip and then Twitter when it opened up a Boulder office.
“He was incredibly smart for sure,” said Eric Ryan, who met Vollmar while they were working at Gnip together about 10 years ago. “Very quickly you could see the passion showed through about the work he was doing, but I also saw that he was good at introducing some well-timed levity into any situation.”
Ryan remembered that, after only knowing each other for a couple of years, Vollmar was one of the few coworkers to go all the way out to Pennsylvania for Ryan’s wedding, which Ryan said just showed what kind of person Vollmar was.
“He was always very generous of his time,” Ryan said. “He was also really big on mentorship and bringing up those around him.”
Richards said she was moved, but not surprised after attending a celebration of life for Vollmar at his workplace and hearing so many stories about him.
“I said, ‘I don’t know any of you, I just want you to know how soothing these stories are to me,’” Richards said. “Everyone talked about how he mentored them, and how giving he was, and how trusting he was. Yep, that’s my man.”
Richards said a friend admitted Vollmar had tasked her with trying to covertly get Richards ring size and had been eyeing a proposal, what should have been the next step in a journey that started with Richards seeing “a hot new guy with an accent in the neighborhood.”
Richards said that at first, she didn’t even realize they were dating.
“He’s still very German, so he’s very matter of fact,” Richards said. “So while Americans take 10 minutes saying goodbye, he would just say, ‘OK, I have to go.’ And I’d be like, ‘Uh, OK.’”
Richards said at first she wasn’t sure whether Vollmar was ready to date after his divorce and after having moved.
“But of course, he did,” Richards said. “And it was perfect.”
Added Richards, “I just want everyone to know this tough German was the most loving person … It was genuine and sincere. He was never anyone but himself.”