Celebration at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens to celebrate Vail woman’s contributions | VailDaily.com

Celebration at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens to celebrate Vail woman’s contributions

Carolyn Pope
Special to the Daily
Helen Fritch's contributions to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens helped make it what it is today.
Daily file photo

Helen Fritch was a force of nature, especially in the gardens, where her passion for flowers, vegetables, and the environment bloomed.

On Friday, Fritch’s legacy and life will be honored at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.

And every Sept. 27, her birthday, will be known as Helen Fritch Day at the gardens.

Friday afternoon, from 2-4 p.m., the public is welcome to visit and toast Fritch’s contributions to the valley.

Light refreshments and wine will be served, and tours of the garden will be available to all.

Every dollar donated will be matched, up to $30,000, by the Fritch family until the end of the year.

“The gardens were very dear to my mom and dad. With her passing in June, we thought of this event as being a celebration of her, but she wasn’t that kind of person. She was one to get out there and do something; make it worthwhile. Because of that, we decided to add a fundraising aspect,” explained Jeanne Fritch, Fritch’s daughter, who is also on the board of directors.

Fritch passed away on June 3 at age 87. Her husband, Bob, passed away Dec. 26 last year at 95.

The couple purchased the Sitzmark Lodge back in 1974 and were integral parts of the community for almost 50 years.

“I’m not nearly the gardener,” laughed Jeanne.

“She just loved being outdoors in the mountains. We came from Chicago where she was involved in the garden club, but moving to Colorado, the abundance of the wildflowers in the summertime, inspired her. My parents loved to have picnics, so I have all these memories of us going up in our Jeep to hike among the wildflowers. She wanted to carry the beauty to people who couldn’t get all the way up into the mountains. Her vision was to have Vail as well known for its flowers as it was for the skiing. She made the gardens accessible and educational, using them as a tool for those who aren’t from the high alpine to demonstrate how the ecosystems work and thrive.”

Nicola Ripley, executive director of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, summed up the Fritch’s contributions.

“Without the Fritches, there would be no Alpine Gardens. She was the inspiration. She and Marty Jones, who was the owner of the Wildflower Farm, hatched the idea. Marty had the business, but she was the proverbial ‘captain of the ship’ over many, many years; the driving force behind it. Not only was she a founder and former member of the board of directors, her family has been one of the most generous donors. We want the gardens to continue to thrive because of her love,” she said.