Loyette Lucille Gamba Goodell died Sept. 3 at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs of complications from a heart attack she suffered at her home in Vail in July of this year.
Born in Kansas City, Kan., May 8, 1929, her family fled the “dust bowl” when she was 7 for Glenwood Springs. Loyette was the eldest of two children born to Humbert John Gamba and Frances Loyette Stoner. She attended both primary and high school in Glenwood Springs, graduating from Glenwood High in 1947. During school, she participated in school band and the accordion club, developing a lifelong enjoyment of listening and playing music.
After high school, she deferred college to care for her bed-ridden mother and help in the family business, Gamba’s Mineral Springs resort. In addition to her work in the bathhouse and the summer cabin rentals, she went on the occasional trail ride.
In the summer of 1950, she was crowned Miss Glenwood Springs. Later that year, she met John Weeks Goodell while they were both working and skiing in Aspen. They married June 20, 1951, in Seattle, spending the early years of their marriage in Glenwood and Aspen before moving to Denver for John’s post-graduate studies at the University of Denver. Loyette adopted John’s son, William Thomas Goodell, and worked as a secretary while putting John through school.
Besides work, raising son Bill and maintaining a household, Loyette found time for skiing, hiking, camping, fishing, jeeping the Flattops and old mine roads/rails with her new family. On Sunday nights, Loyette played the piano, accordion or guitar while all sang the old time ballads around a bowl of popcorn.
In the late ’50s and early a’60s, the family lived in Lander, Wyo., in the foothills of the Wind River Range, where they enjoyed exploring the backcountry by jeep. They often backpacked to remote streams with excellent trout fishing. Summer water skiing on the local reservoirs gave way to winter snow skiing at a rope tow ski area that the Goodell family helped other local families build in the mountains behind town.
In 1962, the family moved to Vail, where Loyette and John worked for Vail Associates the first year the ski area opened. They stayed on, doing a lot more work than skiing until leaving for Alaska in 1967. They did take time in their busy work lives to build a small home in West Vail that they kept while living in Alaska.
While working in Anchorage, Alaska, Loyette rose from legal secretary to executive director of Alaska Legal Services, a private nonprofit law firm providing free legal services to low-income Alaskans. She subsequently retired from that position in 1977 and finished her work career as executive director of the Alaska Bar Association.
During winters in Alaska, Loyette spent leisure time cross country skiing, camping at a remote cabin, playing the piano and listening to classical music and operas. She was an accomplished seamstress and sewed everything from sports coats to sleeping bags. Vacations in the 19-plus daylight hour Alaskan summers found her paddling a sea kayak in the waters of Alaska’s Prince William Sound, and later writing articles about it for the Alaska Magazine. She shared stories of viewing spectacular scenery, whales, sea otters and other wildlife; pitching a tent at high tide line; and setting a crab pot, gathering blue mussels and fishing for rock fish and salmon.
In 1979, Loyette and John retired to their home in Vail and enjoyed many years of 100 days of skiing on their season passes. Summers were spent hiking, biking and camping in the mountains of Colorado and the Southwest desert country. By the ’90s, the couple transitioned from downhill to cross country skiing, and finally from snowshoeing to hiking the North Trail. As John’s health declined, Loyette was often seen second in line on the trail carrying her husband’s oxygen bottle, winter and summer, so he could continue his outdoor activities.
Enjoyment of history and culture also took the couple to Europe, several Mediterranean countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China. While at home in Vail, Loyette’s creative endeavors included weaving on a full-size loom, making artistic wall hangings and painting scenes from her travels.
Loyette is survived by her son, William, of Anchorage, Alaska; brother Jerome Gamba, of Silt; and her kind neighbors and numerous friends in the Vail Valley. She appreciated all the caring and loving people who provided so much help and comfort to her and John. Loyette requested that no service be held and that her ashes be scattered in the waters of Prince William Sound, alongside those of her husband, John.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite charity.