Frank Doll, Vail Valley’s storyteller, has died |

Frank Doll, Vail Valley’s storyteller, has died

Special to the DailyImogene and Frank Doll stand in front of the the Grand Junction home where they were married 50 years before.

AVON, Colorado ” Frank Doll, lifelong Eagle County resident, local historian and link to the area’s ranching past, died Sunday. He was 86.

Doll was well known as a storyteller for the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, where he told tourists tales of the valley before it became ski country.

“He loved preserving the history of the county,” said Louis Medeiros, his son-in-law. “He wanted to save it for future generations so the people would know this was a great country, a great land, before they all showed up. … He was the conduit between then and now.”

With local roots dating back to the late 1800’s, Doll and his family had lived through much of the history of the county.

“If you’re going to tell stories about a place, you might as well tell the real things,” said his daughter, Kathy Doll.

Doll’s family settled in the county in 1887. He grew up on his family’s sprawling ranch, which encompassed much of the Gypsum Creek Valley. The family raised horses and cattle.

“He was a real cowboy,” said friend Steve Jones, who knew Doll for 30 years. “He was just a hell of a guy.”

Kathy Doll quoted Aristotle to remember her father.

“‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit,'” Kathy Doll said. “That was my father to a T. Just every way that he approached life, the way he treated people, the way he treated a job that he did, everything.

Frank Doll ” often spotted around town in his signature cowboy hat ” was a friend to many, from longtime local ranchers to young professionals to schoolchildren. “He was always able to develop friendships easily with people,” Medeiros said. “They saw the benefit immediately of his wisdom and his caring nature.”

Friend Brad Austin met Doll as a vacationer at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, when Doll was telling stories about Indians, the Wild West and the local settlers.

“The first thing that struck me was that he was genuine,” Austin said. “Just a good fellow. When you meet some people, you immediately feel comfortable. You feel at home. He attempted to do that with everyone.”

Friend Carol Mulson remembered how Doll reached out to her after she was diagnosed with cancer several years ago. Doll’s own wife, Imogene, had died of cancer.

“He told me I needed to be at Ti Amo at 1 every Wednesday” where Doll was already meeting with friends each week, Mulson said. “It was probably the nicest support system I have ever run into.”

Doll was always very interested in news and politics, Mulson said.

“He knew an awful lot about a lot of different things,” Mulson said. “He was very well read and very engaged in the world around him.”

And Doll was a steadfast supporter of the Eagle River Fire Protection District, said Mulson, deputy chief for the agencuy.

Doll also was a big supporter of the Avon Library as well as local art students. He was also a volunteer for many years at the Shaw Cancer Center.

Doll served in the Army for 25 years, including during World War II, when he helped liberate the Dachau Concentration Camp. He later served in the Korean War. He left the Army as a lieutenant colonel.

When Doll married Imogene Nottingham in 1948, two pioneer ranching families merged. The Nottinghams had ranched Avon for decades.

Later, Doll worked for Vail Associates, for an insurance company and for the Eagle-Vail Golf Club.

Doll also helped start the Eagle County Historical Society.

“He was absolutely a driving force for getting the history museum established in Eagle in the late 1980s,” said Eagle resident Kathy Heicher, editor of the Eagle Valley Enterprise. “He had a lot to do with collecting items for the museum.”

Friend Cliff Thompson said Doll knew more about the history of Eagle County than most people put together.

“Frank Doll is a classic,” Thompson said.

Friends and family said he was accepting of the enormous change that he had witnessed in his lifetime as Eagle County had transformed from a ranching, railroad and mining county to a resort mecca.

“He was excited about the changes he saw,” Medeiros said.

Doll was an outdoorsman, too ” a hunting guide, a skier and a fly fisherman.

Doll spent many years taking weather readings for the National Weather Service.

Jim Pringle at the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction never met Doll in person, but appreciated his keen weather watching.

“When I called him up, he was always helpful and ready to give me the information,” Pringle said. “He was so reliable, sending us weather on a daily basis. He was one of the more reliable people we have in Western Colorado.”

“He’s going to be greatly missed, not just for his personality, but the data he sent us,” Pringle said. “He was a trained spotter and took his volunteer job very seriously. He was a great guy, and I’m very sad to hear he’s passed on. We’re going to miss him, and we’re going to miss his very high quality weather observations.”

He is survived by three daughters, Sharon Doll of Gypsum, Kathleen Doll of Edwards and Patricia Medeiros of Laramie, Wyo.; a brother, Morton Doll of Eagle; two grandchildren, Matthew Medeiros of Loveland and Levi Medeiros of Laramie; and two great-grandchildren, Caleb and Emmy Medeiros of Loveland.

Services will be private.

Business Editor Scott Miller and Opinion Page Editor Tamara Miller contributed to this report. Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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