Obituary: Gladys Scott Kenney |

Obituary: Gladys Scott Kenney

Gladys Scott Kenney always believed that rather than lamenting the end of a family vacation or a weekend with friends, it was better to leave treasuring the memories.

Her peaceful passing on Dec. 14 at the age of 81 left all those who loved her — from California to the East Coast, to Vail to Tucson — wanting more time, but cherishing the life she led, the lessons, the laughter, the love, the hugs, and the memories.

Born Dec. 9, 1940, in Philadelphia and raised after the age of five in Denver, where her father worked for the U.S. Mint, Gladys – with her forever family – spent the prime of her life in the Vail Valley, teaching preschool and becoming part of the foundation of the Golden Peak Children’s Ski Center.

Gladys found the most joy in spending time with family and friends. Having never learned to ride a bike or pump her own gas, her passion was caring for and laughing with others over great food and lots of love.

She met her husband of 59 years, Robert Kenney, while attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, where Gladys started at the age of 16 after smartly graduating early from Denver East High School and because she was so eager to get out into the world.

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That journey took Gladys and Bob to San Francisco, California, where they had all three of their children — Kristin, David and Kyle — in nearby San Rafael. Their most treasured times there were spent in the family ski condo at Lake Tahoe and on the beaches of Santa Cruz, usually with lifelong best friend Sunny Foster and her family.

The Kenney family then moved to Westport, Connecticut, for four years before finally coming home to Colorado in 1982. In 2010, Gladys and Bob moved to Saddlebrook, north of Tucson, making many more new friends before moving back to Colorado once in again in 2020 to be near family in Fort Collins.

Gladys loved to host parties, and, as the hostess, insisted on a vision for each and every gathering; no one was allowed to bring a thing and her events were never potluck. She also never shied away from costumes, riding a donkey for a fundraiser or rocking “ugly” Christmas sweaters like no one could.

At ski school in Vail, Gladys was trusted, fair, compassionate, understanding and more to all of those who worked with her, the children they taught and their parents. She was loved by them all and brought up her own children to believe that the most important thing you do in life is to somehow make a difference. That is exactly what Gladys did.

She taught Kristin, David, and Kyle from an early age the importance of finding their voices and working hard for what is right. She proudly and often reminisced about campaigning for George McGovern before Watergate.

It was very important to Gladys to raise strong and independent daughters; she loved their choices in life partners and never hesitated to let her sons-in-law know if they were dropping the ball or on the wrong side of her political or culinary passions.

“Gladys from the Couch” — her favorite bully pulpit — was an expert at everything, from politics to relationships to Olympic sports to card games (always shooting the moon in hearts) to world cuisine to Oscar films to space launches and more. She listened closely to people and rarely missed a detail, offering the best advice, whether it was to ski school staff nursing hangovers or grandchildren finding their way in life.

Gladys is survived by her loving husband, Robert, of Windsor; daughter Kristin Kenney Williams and her husband, David O. Williams, of EagleVail; their three sons, Nicholas, of Bozeman, Montana, Maximilian, continuing Bob and Gladys’s tradition at CU Boulder, and Rennick, of EagleVail; son David, of Nome, Alaska; daughter Kyle Nelson and her husband, Erik Nelson, and their daughter, Ryan, and son, Declan, of Fort Collins.

Gladys called each of her five grandchildren “extraordinary” and meant it. She saw in each of them what is most special, and she didn’t hesitate to bring her wisdom to what needed fixing.

While some think it’s sad we lost Gladys at Christmastime, her friends and family are comforted by the time of year, because of her love of tradition and passion for the holiday.

During treatment for cancer, Gladys suffered a stroke in October. She died at home on Dec. 14, a few days after spending her 81st birthday surrounded by family and so much love.

In one of her final conversations, Gladys was asked for words of counsel, and she said simply, “Be gentle.” These are words she wanted in her care and for all of us as we move forward in these trying times.

A celebration of Gladys’s life will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 28, at Eagle River Presbyterian Church in Avon, followed by a reception with a vision (and possibly Manhattans, her favorite cocktail). In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley, because Gladys always believed home is wherever your family is.

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