Arthur O. Pfister
Arthur O. Pfister died peacefully with his family and friends at his side on Monday, March 26, at Aspen Valley Hospital. We knew him as a peacemaker, adoring father, doting grandfather, affectionate uncle, consummate salesman, savvy businessman, loyal friend and loving husband to his wife of 52 years.
Art was born in Preston, Minn. He moved to Montana when he was quite young and his father was a farmer. He attended the University of Minnesota. In 1934, after graduation, he went to work for Smead Manufacturing Company in Minnesota as a traveling salesman of office supplies direct to big corporations. When asked by Harold Hoffman, the owner of the company, if he’d like a job selling office folders, Art answered, “Yes! What are they?” He was working for Smead when World War II started. He was 31 years old and knew he would get drafted. Art decided to attend flight school to avoid the trenches. He was first stationed on the Brahmaputra River in the Assam Valley, flying C-46 planes from India to China delivering gasoline.Art served in the war for four years, and Smead continued to pay him. He got his sales territory back and first came to Aspen on Thanksgiving 1946. He built his first house in Aspen on Castle Creek Road. He skied every day he wasn’t traveling. His sales territory included most of the southern and western United States. Art used his skills as a pilot to fly from city to city. He traveled on four- to six-week trips for Smead out of Aspen. As a result of this unique position with Smead Manufacturing, Art was not dependent upon the Aspen economy. He was able to settle in Aspen while many of the skiing pioneers had to pack up and leave due to the instability of the ski business.A banner year for Art was 1947. The ski lifts officially opened, he purchased the Lazy Chair Ranch on Buttermilk and joined the Aspen Skiing Co.’s board of directors. This was a fun time to be in Aspen as a bachelor. In 1954, he married the love of his life, Betty Haas. They met skiing on Aspen Mountain. After they were married, they built a house on their ranch at Buttermilk and proceeded to have three daughters.Art was a true rancher. When he bought his ranch on Buttermilk Mountain, he was in the cattle business and then he began raising quarter horses. This ranch also helped him to become a ski-area developer. He owned the ranch and his neighbor Friedl Pfiefer owned some Buttermilk land as well. They both thought there needed to be a beginner mountain in the Aspen area. They decided to open the Buttermilk ski area together in 1958. He eventually sold his share of the mountain to the Aspen Skiing Co. but remained on the board of the Skico until it was purchased by Marvin Davis and 20th Century Fox. His ranch was later developed into what is now known as the Maroon Creek Club.
Art was an avid golfer all his life and he was very proud of the golf club, where he spent many happy days with his friends. He loved his family and living on his ranch. He was a brilliant fly-fisherman and enjoyed hunting with a passion. He had a great love of dogs and horses which he shared with his wife Betty. He rode all his life and taught his daughters from an early age. The yearly summer rodeo at the Pfister ranch was a much-anticipated event in the Aspen community. He was an excellent skier and even took up tennis in his later years and loved it.Art was a very reliable dowser and was known to have “witched” many of the wells throughout the Aspen Valley. This was a talent that he did not advertise, but he always made himself available to go out to someone’s property to “take a look.” More likely than not, he turned up a winner. On several occasions, he even helped out his wife, Betty, with her Air Rescue searches by dowsing the maps of the general search area. He was very accurate but never entirely comfortable with this skill.On Labor Day weekend, beginning in 1988, Art and Betty hosted a very popular get-together called the Old-Timers Party. This tradition continued for many years. The people who attend this party, which is now hosted by the Aspen Historical Society, are the people who shaped present-day Aspen, much like Art himself.
Art leaves his wife, Betty; his three children, Suzanne Pfister of Aspen, Nancy Pfister or Santa Fe, N.M., and Christina Smith of Montecito, Calif.; and five grandchildren, Juliana, Chase, Tyler, Daniel and Arthur to keep his memory alive.There will be a memorial to celebrate Art’s life at 4 p.m. at the Hotel Jerome Ballroom on Sunday, April 1. All are welcome.Please feel free to bring your favorite Art Pfister story, memory or photograph to be placed in a special book for the family.In lieu of flowers, the Pfister family requests that donations be sent to the Aspen Junior Golf Foundation, P. O. Box 3273, Aspen CO, 81612, or log onto the website http://www.aspenjuniorgolf.com.
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With COVID-19 health and safety practices in place, who is up for a road trip to see the Denver Art Museum’s hotly anticipated exhibition on Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera?