Dr. J Sterling Baxter
July 30, 2009
Born: June 8, 1927, Stafford, Kan.
Died: July 24, 2009, Aspen, Colo.
Longtime Aspen resident Dr. J Sterling Baxter passed away at home in his sleep on July 24, 2009. Dr. Baxter, a longtime community leader and family doctor came to Aspen to open his medical practice in 1954. J was the only child of Helen Sterling Baxter and Wilber Baxter and was born on June 8, 1927 in Stafford, Kan. After completing high school in Stafford, J enlisted in the U.S. Navy and after graduating from medical school, at the University of Kansas, he completed his medical internship as a Lieutenant in the Army stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington State. It was on a road trip to Monterey, California that J happened upon a car rally routed through the streets of Aspen and immediately determined that this is where he would open his medical practice.
Along with partners Dr. Robert (Bugsy) Barnard and Dentist Dr. Bill Comcowich, opened the Aspen Medical Center originally located on Mill Street near Wagner Park. In later years the medical center was located on Main Street.
Dr. Baxter was an active community leader serving on the board for The Bank of Aspen, as a member of the Aspen School Board, numerous terms on the Planning and Zoning Commission, as a Pitkin County commissioner and as a member of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Posse.
Dr. Baxter was an active member of the staff at the Aspen Valley Hospital and saw it through several renovations and a move to its current location on Castle Creek Road. He was also a longtime supporter of the Pitkin County Senior Center. J was a member of the Aspen Lion’s Club and the Aspen Rotary Club. He was a member of the Aspen Community Church and later an active supporter of the Aspen Chapel.
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In addition to his medical practice and community involvement, Baxter enjoyed sports car racing. He built several race cars, raced throughout the United States as a member of the Sports Car Club of America and was a veteran of the rugged off-road classic, the Baja 1000. He and several partners founded the Aspen Raceway Association and built the Woody Creek race track, now the home of the Aspen Sports Car Club. The race track was the scene of many amateur races, car and motorcycle rallies. J also enjoyed restoring and riding motorcycles.
Another interest of J’s was music, specifically jazz. J and Peggy traveled to enjoy and participate in jazz festivals through out the country. He was a founding member of the local jazz band, The Dirty Old Men. Baxter played the clarinet and sang with the group when the group performed locally for parties and informal get-togethers.
Dr. Baxter was preceded in death by his wife of 57 years, Peggy Lou Baxter, and grandson Robbie Wade. He is survived by his five daughters: Sarah Hodges and her husband Steve, (Dallas, Texas) Rachal Baxter, (Seattle, Wash.) Ruth Wade and her husband Bob, (Aspen) Nancy Nichols and her husband Brian, (Aspen) and Margaret Cummings and her husband Rick (Longmont, Colo.). In addition he is survived by seven grandchildren: Rachel Hodges-Spitsberg and her husband Tim, J Hodges, Maile Wade, Zachary Nichols, Abbigail Nichols, Dain Cum mings and Olivia Cummings.
A memorial service to honor J’s life is planned for Friday, Aug. 14t at 10:30 a.m. at the Aspen Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be directed to The Carillon Fund at the Aspen Chapel.