Ella Knox, Vail pioneer, died Wednesday | VailDaily.com
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Ella Knox, Vail pioneer, died Wednesday

Ella Knox
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One of Vail’s pioneers, Ella Mae McWhorter Knox, died in her sleep Wednesday in Carbondale. She was 95.

She moved to Vail in 1965 with her husband, George “Skipper” Knox, following their son George Jr.’s move to the new ski resort. They were soon joined by their other son, Allen.

Family and friends said Ella and the Skipper dove into making the new town a real community, and the Knox family immersed themselves in Vail both socially and in business.



The Skipper founded The Vail Trail in 1965, starting the paper as an advertising flier for the resort. It soon grew into Vail’s first newspaper.

The Skipper and Ella were “quite the team, making friends with everyone from skiing legends to President Gerald Ford and Mrs. Ford. Known for her quick wit and her political opinions, Ella was someone everyone knew on a first-name basis,” said family friend Jackie Higgins.



Cooking, gardening and Republican politics were Ella’s passions. With the opening of restaurants in Vail, Ella made her trademark mincemeat tarts for the Clock Tower Restaurant, friends and family recalled.

“Her hospitality at the dinner table was famous; she could take ordinary ingredients and turn them into a culinary delight,” Higgins said. “Her talents were not wasted when she would sometimes appear at her job at The Vail Trail bearing her mincemeat tarts, complete with homemade whipping cream to be served on her china dishes. The young hungry staff felt a touch of home when Ella appeared.”

At The Vail Trail, she wrote a column, “Green Thumb Ella,” with her high altitude tips for creating beautiful gardens.



Her garden at her Matterhorn home became a summer legend, family and friends remember.

“Ella knew the names of every wildflower and every species that grew in her yard. Ella, wearing her garden gloves, hat and carrying a spade was a familiar sight on a summer afternoon,” Higgins said. “Many novice gardeners came to clip a cutting out of Ella’s yard to start their own summer Vail garden, and Ella always had the time to talk about her beloved plants and their care. One word of advice Ella gave: ‘Remember tulips are just a turkey dinner for a gopher.'”

She had strong political views. She was a proud member of the Republican Party who regularly expressed her displeasure with the Democrats, consistently defending Republican policies. She proudly displayed President and Mrs. Reagan’s photograph in her home.

Even in later years when her memory would sometimes fade, she could still report she was a Republican, friend and family said.

“She even ventured to tell one dear friend after her father’s death, ‘Now Jackie, your father was a good man and the last thing he told me was he wanted you to become a Republican.'”

Ella Knox was born in Dayton, Ohio, on March 25, 1912. The oldest of four children, she attended schools in Kansas and Texas. She went to college at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

After college, she moved to Oklahoma City, Okla., where she met her husband, George. They became parents of two sons, George Jr. and Allen. The family first moved from Oklahoma to Cascade, Colo., before relocating to Vail. She lived most recently at the Heritage Care Nursing Home in Carbondale.

She was an active Christian Scientist.

She is survived by her son, George Knox Jr. and his wife Candi Knox; her son Allen Knox; grandchildren Kolby Knox, Carolyn Knox Keep, Bobby Knox and Munsey Knox; and seven great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made in honor of Ella Knox to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail.


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