Buttermilk visionary Art Pfister dies at 96
March 27, 2007
ASPEN ” Art Pfister, a beloved community member who helped develop Buttermilk, died Monday. He was 96.
A family friend confirmed that Pfister died Monday at Aspen Valley Hospital, but further details were not available.
“He was a wonderful man,” Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud said at Monday’s Aspen City Council meeting. “He always had a smile on his face.”
Pfister was born Aug. 18, 1910, in Minnesota. After graduating from the University of Minnesota and working as a salesman for the Smead Manufacturing Co., Pfister was drafted into World War II as a fighter pilot, first stationed with the Ferry Command at Love Field in Dallas, where he taught flying. Coincidentally, his future wife, Betty, was a WASP (Women’s Air force Service Pilot) also with the Ferry Command.
After leaving the service, Pfister moved to Aspen, where he would commute for Smead in his own plane. He had visited often as a salesman, and decided to build a home on Castle Creek in 1947.
“I skied every day I was in town,” he told friend and Aspen Times columnist Mary Eshbaugh Hayes in 2000. “I loved it. As a bachelor, Aspen was a desirable place to live.”
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Later the same year, Pfister bought the 700-acre Lazy Chair Ranch on Buttermilk for $30,000; he also joined the board of directors of the Aspen Skiing Corp., were he served until the early 2000s.
In 1954, Pfister married Betty, whom he met skiing in Aspen. The couple had three daughters, Suzanne, Nancy and Christina.
For three years, Pfister ran cattle on his ranch; he then raised quarter horses. Owning the ranch also positioned Pfister to become a ski area developer.
“I had the ranch, and Friedl Pfeifer owned some Buttermilk land,” he told Hayes. “We both felt there needed to be a beginners mountain in the Aspen area and decided to do the Buttermilk Ski Area together, and so we did, in 1958.”
Pfister eventually sold his share of Buttermilk to the Aspen Skiing Co., and in 1984 the remainder of his ranch was parceled off to family and sold to the Maroon Creek Club golf development.
But Pfister never left Aspen. In fact, he helped establish the annual Old Timers Party in 1988 and remained an active part of the Aspen community well into his 90s. “At 90 years old, he is remarkable energetic: still riding horseback, hunting and fishing, playing tennis, playing lots of golf and going to lots of parties. He loves to laugh and he’s as much a flirt as ever,” Hayes wrote in a September 2000 profile of Pfister.
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