VAIL — The great thing about Vernon and Ann Taylor’s house on the hill in Vail was that about anyone was welcome, as long as you behaved yourself. It was an amazing place, but then again, they were amazing people. Wander in the door and you might run into Gregory Peck, Truman Capote or the occasional British royal, or you might see the guy who swings lift chairs with you on Vail Mountain. When Gerald Ford was the 38th president, there might be a quorum of his Cabinet members around the Taylor’s dinner table.
Writer Ted Katauskas describe that house as “the gravitational center of Vail’s social universe around which everything and everyone of any consequence orbits.”
In 1959 Vernon “Moose” Taylor was one of original investors in The Vail Corporation, when Vail was a vision and nothing more. Moose was 97 when died a few weeks ago, on the 67th anniversary of the day he had the very good sense to marry the beautiful and brilliant Ann Bonfoey Taylor.
Anne was raised in New England and was a skier with Olympic aspirations. She was an alternate on the 1940 U.S. Olympic team. Stowe’s run, “Nose Dive Annie,” was named after her because of her hard charging skiing style. She was a pilot who trained during World War II, a civil engineer and she competed in Wimbledon. She and Moose were both accomplished equestrians, competing in dressage in the U.S. and Europe.
Moose was a Navy aviator in World War II, flying missions off an aircraft carrier stationed off the Aleutian Islands. After the war, Moose joined his father in the family oil, gas and mining business, Westhoma Oil Co., establishing an office in Denver in 1950.
During their whirlwind courtship after the war, Moose told Ann he wanted to build a ski house with her. In l963, they built Vail’s first magnificent home, a French Manor house on Rock Ledge Road, where they entertained prominent guests, among them Tom and Olive Watson. Tom was CEO of IBM and he and Olive were both enthusiastic skiers.
When Vail’s originals were struggling to raise money to launch their dream, Moose and Ann were among early investors to host a fundraising event – sort of a Tupperware party for skiers.
Finally, Taylor, John Murchison, Fitzhugh Scott and C.T. Chenery agreed to underwrite five of the remaining lots, and George Caulkins underwrote the other 10, so construction could begin in the summer of 1962.
Those early Vail years were spent careening from one financial disaster to the next, with people like Moose Taylor pulling them out of the fire. Such a time was when the Great Western Life of Minneapolis almost foreclosed on a major loan.
“John Murchison called me one Friday evening and told me we had a problem and we had to get together. He set up a meeting at Jack Tweedy’s house the following Sunday. Vail Associates had borrowed money from Great Western and there was a time frame to pay it back,” said local author Dick Hauserman. Murchison, Moose Taylor, Chenery and Jack Tweedy raised the money just in time.
Born March 4, 1916 in Indiana, Pa., to Vernon and Ruth Taylor, Vernon Jr. was dubbed “Moose” in Taft School in Watertown, Conn., for his exploits on the football field. He attended New Mexico School of Mines and was a member of the Class of ’39 at Dartmouth College. The Taylors spent their summers on their Montana cattle ranch.
They often entertained in their Jefferson County estate, including an event for the wives of world leaders during the G-8 conference in 1997, and hosted Princess Anne and her father, Prince Philip, of the United Kingdom during visits to Colorado. They spent summers on their cattle ranch in Montana. Ann passed away in 2007. The Tylors are survived by their four sons, Vernon III, Douglas, Robert, Craig, and 11 grandchildren.