Obituary: Lorraine Higbie
Lorraine Nichols Higbie
Lorraine was born Mary Rose Sophie Suzanne Diana Hope Nichols on Jan 5, 1931 at the May Lippincott maternity center in New York City, the sixth child of Lynette Craven Nichols and Herman Armour Nichols. On the way to her christening, her indecisive mother spontaneously dropped the previous and named her Lorraine Nichols. Lorraine attended the Friends school in NYC, until moving back to the family home of Woodstock, Vermont. She majored in art history at Bennington College in Vermont.
Not surprisingly, Lorraine met her beloved husband Harley Higbie while skiing in Europe. The couple soon married, in 1954, in Woodstock, Vermont. They had four children, Lorraine Fairmont, Madeleine Wolfe, Lolita Higbie, Harley Higbie lll, and raised her nephew, Juan Miguel Piedra (deceased). She was also a dear mother figure to many others who lost their parents far too young.
After a few windy years in Oklahoma City, they escaped to Denver in 1959 to be closer to the ski world. Once there, they became passionately involved in creating the ski area and town of Vail. Lorraine and good friend, Gretta Parks, opened Vail’s first ski shop, The Gondola Boutique. They sold ski clothes, cross country gear and ran a beauty salon in the back. Though Lorraine and Harley lived in Denver most weekdays for school and work, their hearts’ focus was in helping make the dream of Vail come true.
Lorraine was also passionately committed to expanding the civic and cultural offerings in Denver. Her love and sensibility for the arts sent her weekly to volunteer and lead tours in Pre-Columbian and other departments of the Denver Art Museum. She served on the board from 1981 -1998 and on the education committee until 2019. Her love of all plants and flowers led her to the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Garden Club of Denver, where she shared her passion and wisdom all of her adult life.
Avid gardener, fisherwoman, hiker and cross country skier, Lorraine loved the outdoors and explored Colorado extensively. She shared her enthusiasm on many an outdoor adventure and mountain climb, including the Colorado 14ers and other hikes around the world. As a foundational member of the 10th Mountain Division Hut Assoc., she spearheaded building the Fowler-Hilliard Hut, dedicated to two dear climbing friends, Ann Fowler and Ed Hilliard.
Her friends abound – in Vail, Denver, NYC and her beloved Vermont. As many remember, an interaction with Lorraine always came with a wisely intuitive, wry, funny comment. Even in her last stressful years, the gems would punctuate conversations, surprising everyone with their perceptiveness and humor. Appropriately, she passed on Easter Sunday, a time of family, renewal, hope and spring flowers. Touché, Lorraine!
Her grandchildren are: Alex Wolfe, Gakenia Mugai, Lela Martin Higbie, Emerson Martin; Evan, Nathan, Sophie, and Joshua Fairmont, Lucila Piedra, and Jared Piedra (deceased).
A memorial service will be held in Vail sometime this summer….
In memory of Lorraine, donations gratefully accepted to: The 10th Mountain Division Hut Assoc. (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Colorado Open Lands (Coloradoopenlands.org).
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