Local attorney was a fixture in Vail | VailDaily.com

Local attorney was a fixture in Vail

Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado – Going to a concert with Ann Reilly Bishop could be hard – at least when it came time to find your seat.

“She kisses her way in and out,” Bishop’s friend Joan Norris said. “She knew more people than you can imagine.”

Bishop, 61, died at her Vail home Oct. 7 after a two-year battle with cancer. While fighting the disease, she was still working as a lawyer, and still working for her favorite causes, including the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. In fact, Bishop was elected president of the gardens’ board of trustees earlier this year, but soon had to turn the position over to someone else – her health just wouldn’t give her the time.

It was one of the few times Bishop couldn’t give her time to a cause she believed in.

Bishop also wasn’t able to attend a recent tribute to Dr. Tom Steinberg, either. She was supposed to sit at longtime friend Merv Lapin’s table.

Lapin said Bishop’s active law practice led to a lot of friendships with people who came to know her has clients.

“She did a lot of work with property taxes,” Lapin said. “She was a very thorough lawyer.”

Beyond her skills as an attorney, it was Bishop’s enthusiasm for life that drew people to her.

“She always had a positive outlook,” Lapin said. “She was looking forward to skiing this year.”

And, Norris said, Bishop was an accomplished, passionate skier.

Talking to those who knew her, Bishop had a winning way with people.

“She always had a kind word for everyone,” Vail resident Kent Logan said. “I don’t think there was a mean bone in her body.”

Longtime friend Mary Dockstader agreed, saying Bishop was always looking for ways to help.

“She cared very deeply about many, many people, and she was willing to help whenever she could,” Dockstader said.

That help could come in many ways, from helping prepare meals for performers in the Vail International Dance Festival – Bishop was well known for her inventive, delicious salads – to rounding up volunteers for projects for the dance festival, Vail Valley Medical Center and, especially, the gardens.

“We had a great admiration for Ann,” Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Director Nicola Ripley said. “She was very vocal in her support of the gardens.”

And like so much else in her life, Bishop loved working to make the gardens better.

“In the spring she seemed to be doing well,” Ripley said. “She was ready to work and very excited about the season.”

And Bishop loved showing off the gardens, no matter the time.

“The last time we went to a Bravo! concert she led me through the gardens, in the dark, up the hill toward the tennis courts,” Norris said. “I’d never been that way, and it was pitch-dark, but she knew the path like the back of her hand.”

Dockstader said Bishop was thrilled to be named president of the gardens’ governing board – she was thrilled at the sign of respect from her fellow board members.

“But she decided she wasn’t going to be able to really use her talents and abilities to her full strength,” Dockstader said. “That was hard.”

Asked what she’s going to remember about her friend, Dockstader reels off a list – Bishop’s courage in facing down cancer, her ability to recover, to get back to living her life.

“She left a void that won’t be filled,” Logan said.

For Norris, talking about the way Bishop would end a phone call is a bittersweet memory.

“We talked a lot, and Ann would always sign off with ‘I love you!'” Norris said. “It was so wonderful – I’m really going to miss that.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.

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