Remembering Pam Timmins: Former press secretary to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy led a remarkable Vail Valley life
Pam Timmins quietly touched many lives in the Vail Valley
Moving from the city to the mountains requires a strong, lasting sense of adventure. Pam Timmins had that, and more.
Pam moved to the Vail area in 1990, shortly after the death of her husband, Robert Timmins, but the couple had been frequent visitors in the years before that.
It was in the 1980s when Mindy Brill was a ski instructor on Vail Mountain when a new student appeared on a wet, snowy day.
Robert Timmins showed up and said, “I need an instructor to get my wife down the mountain,” Brill recalled, adding that Pam was looking pretty bedraggled at the time. Pam soon became an accomplished skier.
That introduction led to a “beautiful friendship,” Brill recalled.
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Over the years, Brill met Pam’s friends, and Pam eventually bought a home near the place where Brill and her husband, Tony Mauro, lived.
As they came to know each other, Brill learned how remarkable her friend was.
Pam was the first press secretary to a first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. She also lived an active professional life in Washington D.C. and New York. She never talked about those days, Brill said.
“She became a Colorado woman — there was never any mention of that part of her life,” longtime friend Pia Streeter said.
Streeter recalled that she and Pam met in Vail, but had spent a good amount of time in New York.
‘It was always an exploration of sorts’
After Pam moved to Colorado, she and Streeter did a lot of exploring. Those excursions included driving trips and hiking expeditions to Marble, Carbondale, Leadville, and other places. The two would also make frequent trips to Denver but also liked to discover hot springs around the region, including Saratoga, Wyoming.
On those trips, Streeter learned about her friend’s deep knowledge of wildflowers. On hikes, Pam would often tell her friend the Latin names of the plants they’d found. After some time looking at mountain geology, Pam in her later years got a book on the topic.
“It was always an exploration of sorts,” Streeter said.
Pam’s love of nature went beyond excursions with friends.
Walking Mountains Science Center founder Kim Langmaid met Pam shortly after the center was founded.
“As soon as she found out about it, she contacted me and offered to volunteer with whatever we needed help with,” Langmaid said. “She loved the outdoors, and kids and helping people. … When we needed to do a mailing, she’d stamp envelopes.”
Helping at Walking Mountains also included volunteering at the Vail Nature Center and, at times, answering the phones at the front desk.
A heart for community
Pam’s community contributions included working at local food banks and working for the Eagle Valley Land Trust and other community groups.
But, Streeter said, “She never looked to be the one to take any credit.”
For 12 years, Pam and Steve Boyd became close companions and shared still more adventures. Steve passed in 2018, but his son, Tom, recalled the two would often head out to Steve’s cabin in Marble. And, Tom said, he was constantly amazed by how much his father’s companion knew about so many topics.
“When I started to garden, she knew about all the plants,” Tom said. “There were very few areas where she wasn’t extremely knowledgable, but she was very quiet about it.”
Part of that knowledge was about fly-fishing, a skill at which she was quite accomplished.
A longtime friend, who didn’t want her name used, noted that Pam had fished for salmon on big rivers in Alaska and Canada, and believed strongly that people in Colorado shouldn’t fish in the winter because of the stress put on the fish in cold weather.
“She and my dad would go on outrageous fishing adventures,” Tom said. Since both were in their 70s at the time, the family would “kind of worry,” Tom added. But the pair always returned safe and sound.
As she settled into her mountain life, Pam would sometimes host dinner parties, with a variety of guests. Those guests would include both carpenters and astronaut Scott Carpenter, Brill recalled.
Brill the other day was helping clear Pam’s place, and noted that as she was going through the plates, there was everything from fine dinnerware to everyday items. That reflects the variety of her guests, Brill said. And Pam was equally at home with all those varied people.
“She was comfortable wherever she happened to land,” Streeter said.
You can read more about Pam in her obituary at vaildaily.com.