Bob Fritch resigns as Alpine Garden treasurer |

Bob Fritch resigns as Alpine Garden treasurer

Kimberly Nicoletti
Special to the Daily
Bob Fritch served as the treasurer of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens for 13 years, a position previously held by his wife, Helen.
Special to the Daily

Most people know Vail for its world-renowned skiing and riding, but Helen Fritch envisioned the town becoming just as well-known for its flowers. In 1986, Helen Fritch’s vision to showcase the splendor of alpine plants became a reality, as she and Marty Jones formed the first board of directors for the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.

Helen Fritch’s leadership drove the organization forward for many years, and her husband, Bob Fritch, was her right-hand man. When Helen Fritch’s health declined, Bob Fritch served on the board, ultimately acting as treasurer for 13 years. This month, he resigned.

“He continued her dedication, but in a quieter way,” said Nicola Ripley, executive director. “He has been a tireless advocate for the science and education behind the gardens and has kept a keen eye on the financials for many years.”

In addition to early financial contributions and thousands of hours of volunteering, the Fritchs underwrote the garden’s gift shop in 2004 and the Education Center’s cold greenhouse — the Alpine House — in 2015. The Alpine House provides a central meeting place to educate visitors, feature collections and host special events revolving around water conservation, climate change and more. The Fritchs recently announced they will match donations to the endowment campaign, which will support the future of the gardens.

“While there have been other very generous donors, no one has combined their philanthropic generosity with their dedication,” Ripley said.

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“It would not be an exaggeration to say that without this remarkable couple, there would be no Betty Ford Alpine Gardens,” said Susan Frampton, board president.

The Fritchs ushered the gardens through several rough years and enabled it to grow into its current form, which earned the Nonprofit of the Year award from the Vail Valley Partnership in 2018. Now, their daughter, Jeanne Fritch, follows in her parent’s footsteps.

“Because the gardens have been so cherished by my parents and my mom so passionately devoted herself to their development, I feel it is important for our family to continue to contribute to the growth and sustainability of the organization so future generations can continue to learn about and appreciate the beauty of the alpine environment,” Jeanne said.

Through education, the board aims to help people understand, appreciate and conserve fragile alpine plants. One way it does this is by maintaining a garden with the most diverse, best curated and most aesthetic displays of alpine and mountain plants in the world. The garden attracts more than 100,000 visitors annually. Its philosophy revolves around Senegalese conservationist Baba Dioum’s quote: “In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we have been taught.”

The board, as well as the community, remain indebted to the Fritchs.

“We cannot thank Bob enough for the dedication, passion, enthusiasm and motivation he has given Betty Ford Alpine Gardens over the years,” Ripley said. “We hope Bob will stay involved in the gardens, and we will remain forever grateful for his contributions to the success of the gardens. We wish him and Helen the very best.”

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