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Remembering Earl Eaton

Roger Brown

For those of you who may have missed it, there was a memorial for Earl Eaton on Saturday. It was a perfect ceremony.

There was lots of crying, and laughing. For Earl was not only a loveable character, he was funny, with a dry sense of humor that made those of us who were fortunate enough to know him think about our lives in relation to his. While many of us were trying to figure out a way to achieve fame and fortune, Earl was on the mountain skiing. Right now, I would love to trade the hours I have spent in cars and planes for his on the slopes.

There is one story I forgot to relate at the memorial. Earl knew I could get grumpy about too much growth and development so in one of our conversations he looked at me and said, “You know, we weren’t worried about too much growth, the valley was so narrow.” Then he paused for a second, and said with a grin, “but we forgot how long the valley is.”

I don’t think Earl ever questioned a yard of concrete that was poured, or a pile of sticks that turned into a grand trophy mansion. When he was a boy he walked home to a cold, log cabin from a cold one-room school house up Squaw Creek on 20-degree-below days frequently enough, and had seen cow chasing through the rain and snow often enough to think there must be a better life. He found that life in what is Vail today and he was largely responsible for creating it.

I may not agree with Earl about all this, but I respect his view. And I respect and love his soul, which was pure. Who of us can say we knew what we wanted from the beginning and went there, and stayed there for 80 some years?

Earl’s soul is the soul of this valley. I hope we never forget that and the example he set.


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