Vail Daily obituary: Arte Davies, 1954-2015
The Vail Valley community recently lost one of its most remarkable, colorful and unique members as Arte Davies passed away Saturday at his home in Gypsum, following a short illness. He was surrounded by a small group of friends. Blessed with a quirky sense of humor, dry wit and a devilish twinkle in his eye, he was also a gentle and caring soul that will be sorely missed by all that knew and worked with him.
Born on Jan. 31, 1954, in Portsmouth, Virginia, Arte grew up in a time when you could be barefoot and stay outside until the streetlights came on. He was organizing events even then in the form of fashion shows, Miss America pageants and made-up skits to a Ventures album.
Davies was very popular at Woodrow Wilson High School, voted “The Cutest” of the class of 1972 in his senior year. He attended Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, before following longtime friends to Vail in 1985. Once established, he began working as a hair stylist in a salon above the Alpenrose Restaurant in Vail Village.
He began volunteering with the Vail Valley Foundation for the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships, assisting with the social and hospitality aspects of the Foundation’s various athletic, cultural and educational events and programs. He joined the Vail Valley Foundation on a full-time basis in 1994 as the nonprofit organization’s social coordinator. In 2009, he was promoted to director of social events for the VVF.
The many annual Foundation social events that Arte spearheaded included the Black Diamond Ball, the Star Dancing Gala, the Legend of Honor Banquet and the Vail International Dance Festival Gala, along with annual hospitality functions for the Birds of Prey World Cup, Korbel American Ski Classic, GoPro Mountain Games and numerous VVF development social functions.
He was particularly fond of his association with the Vail International Dance Festival, taking time to befriend the dancers and choreographers each year, while also traveling to Russia at the invitation of Madame Sophia Golovkina to visit members of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy of Moscow. He counted former President and Mrs. Gerald R. Ford among his many friends, working with the Fords on projects including the AEI World Forum and the Dance Festival.
On the world stage, Davies coordinated both social and hospitality functions for the 1999 and 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, along with the 1994 UCI World Mountain Bike Championships. All of his social events planned for the 2001 World Mountain Bike Championships were ultimately canceled as a result of the events of Sept. 11.
Some of the more memorable social events that Arte coordinated included the 2004 Dance Festival Gala, complete with live animals to celebrate the festival’s featured African dance troupe, and the 2005 Honda Session athlete party, hosted in the parking garage underneath the old Sundance Saloon in Lionshead. He also organized the 1999 World Championships media party that featured a full rodeo performance in Dobson Ice Arena as part of the evening’s festivities.
He had an uncanny knack for bestowing nicknames on both people and things. Many of these names have evolved into the normal day-to-day event vocabulary of the Vail Valley Foundation, while many of the people continue to sport their Arte nicknames with great pride.
But “Party Arte” also had a serious side. Behind the sarcasm and the “diva” exterior was a heart of gold and a gentle and caring spirit that shone through, no matter how hard he attempted to hide it. And, he enjoyed being contrary … a diehard Oakland Raiders fan in the heart of Broncos Nation.
Family and friends would like to extend their sincere appreciation to Kaylee Brennand, Heidi Elzinga and Lisa Babb, who stayed at Arte’s side, assisting with all of the details, throughout his final month.
Arte is survived by his two sisters, Mary-Cookie Davies White and Debi Davies Carter, and niece Angela Dean, along with his beloved canine companions, Chase and Zoe. In addition, he will live on in the smiles and laughter of all the people he has touched in his life, especially when talk turns to “Arteisms”.
Arte’s Last Party will be hosted at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek on Saturday, Nov. 7, from 1-2 p.m. A reception will follow at Maya in Avon from 2-5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to HomeCare & Hospice of the Valley or the Vail International Dance Festival.
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