EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - Doris Dewton has always stayed busy. Now, she's working for others. Dewton will be honored as the Vail Valley Foundation's "Volunteer of the Year" at tonight's Black Diamond Ball at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch.
Since retiring from a career in the oil industry and settling full-time in the valley, Dewton has put a lot of time into education, including stints as a member of the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees, the board of the Vail Symposium and a special education program for the Board of Cooperative Educational Services for several Western Slope school districts.
Her passion for education started at home.
Her parents both immigrated to this country from Austria, where both were lawyers. Those law degrees weren't recognized here, but both her mother and father used their educations to create new careers.
"With a good education you can be anything," Dewton said.
She was raised with the expectation she would go to college, and her education led her to a number of jobs in both government and private industry.
But with all the travel and zillion-hour work weeks, Dewton said she never really had time to get involved in any of the communities where she lived. That changed when she and her husband retired and moved to the valley full-time in 1994.
She'd gotten to know Colorado Mountain College through a "great books" class put on by Jose Aybar, the then-president of the college. Not long after, Don Salanty, who Dewton had known during her time in the oil industry, was leaving the college's board of trustees and suggested Dewton run for the seat. She won election and served eight years on the board, including a time as president of the board.
Dewton said the fact that the college is supported only by property taxes in its five-county district has served it well as the region's population mushroomed.
"Our status really allowed us to thrive," she said.
During her tenure on the board, the college built new facilities in Rifle, Leadville, Breckenridge and Edwards. Keeping a policy dating from the college's founding, all were built without a dime of borrowed money.
Dewton is still actively involved with the college, as a member of the Colorado Mountain College Foundation.
Besides her work with Colorado Mountain College, Dewton has also served on the boards of the Berry Creek Metropolitan District and the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District. She's also worked at the Vilar Performing Arts Center, has volunteered for the 1999 World Alpine Ski Championships and the American Ski Classic and the Vail International Dance Festival.
With a volunteer schedule that full, Dewton still finds time to belong to three book clubs, plays golf and tennis and cooks.
And, like most volunteers, she's grateful for, but a bit embarassed by, recognition.
"I'm looking forward to the ball," she said. "But mine will be a very short speech."
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.