Former Red Cliff Mayor Walter Fox died July 14 | VailDaily.com

Former Red Cliff Mayor Walter Fox died July 14

Former Red Cliff Mayor Walter Fox was an avid outdoorsman, but it seemed he was also always availble to lend a helping hand. Fox died July 14, with services set for today and Saturday.

RED CLIFF — Red Cliff never had a better friend than Walter Fox, and he will be missed.

Fox, 71, died July 14 in Grand Junction. He was born in Fruita in 1945, and moved to Red Cliff after serving in the military. Arthur Fox, Walter's son, said family records indicate that Walter bought a home in Red Cliff in 1968. Born a few years later, Arthur remembers growing up in a small, tight-knit community.

"You'd know when Mrs. Pacheco was making cookies, or the another mom was making burritos or green chili," Arthur said.

That tight-knit community never had a lot of money for civic projects, and Arthur remembers his family participating in various fundraisers for things the community needed.

Walter was a big part of the community. Arthur said the bridge leading up to the old schoolhouse in town used to be one lane. Walter helped land the state grants needed to widen the structure.

"He got a lot accomplished," Red Cliff Town Clerk Barb Smith said.

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Those accomplishments came both as a private citizen and elected official. He was Red Cliff's mayor from 1988-1992, and served a couple of terms on the Red Cliff Board of Trustees.

"Walt was indispensable — he was behind the scenes, and always involved," former Red Cliff Mayor Ramon Montoya said. Montoya added that Walter pushed him to get involved in town government and other civic activities.

'He was an inspiration'

Even after he was off the board, Walter remained involved in the town's life, and had the skills to help keep things running. He worked for a time with the town's water department, and there wasn't anything about that system he didn't know.

Montoya recalled that Walter lived essentially at the top of the town's water system. When the lines started to freeze in the winter, they froze at Walter's house first. He'd get out and do the work needed to keep the lines running through the rest of town.

"He was the first one in and the last one out," Montoya said. "He knew the tricks (to keep things running) — everything from the town truck to the water system."

Walter was also a frequent, friendly presence at town hall. Smith said he'd stop in a few times a week, just to see how things were going.

And, always, there was another project, at work, at home or in town.

Kyle Diebel worked with Walter at FirstBank in Vail for about five years. Walter always made sure the national and state flags were flying above the bank, and created some sort of device that allowed him to raise and lower the flags without having to climb a ladder. That device was one of many, from a small cart that turned into a chair on fishing trips to things invented during a renovation of Diebel's home.

"There wasn't one thing he couldn't solve," Diebel said. "And he was great with the customers … I think people might have come to the bank just to see him … he was an inspiration with how much he cared about everyone else."

Walter's kids noticed their dad's dedication to service, of course.

"He was a giver," Arthur said. "He'd see somebody in need and buy groceries for them."

Arthur said his father was a keen shopper for sale items, from canned soup — that often found its way into the pantries of people who needed a little help — to clothing, tools and other items.

Diebel said Walter would often stop at his home with a new find.

"I'd say, 'I don't need anything like that,'" Diebel said. "He'd just tell me what a great price he'd gotten."

While Walter was known and admired by many, daughter Jennifer Dixon remembers the one-on-one time she had with her father.

"We would call each other up, and just ask how our days went," she said. "We'd talk, and laugh. When Dad would drive by where I work, he'd stop by … It was so wonderful just to talk to my dad. He was such a good man."

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.

A word about services

• A visitation for Walter Fox will be held Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Bailey-Kent Funeral Home in Leadville.

• A memorial mass will be held July 23 at 10 a.m. at Saint Patrick’s Parish church in Minturn. Father Jim Baird will perform the service.

• Interment will follow the mass at Greenwood Cemetery in Red Cliff.

• A reception will follow at Red Cliff Elementary School.

The full obituary can be found at the Bailey-Kent Funeral Home website.