Former 10th Mountain soldier dies |

Former 10th Mountain soldier dies

Naomi Havlen
James Norman Richardson died recently in Florida. He was a former member of the U.S. Amry's 10th Mountain Division.

A former member of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division with many fond memories of Aspen died late last month at his home in Florida.James Norman “Norm” Richardson was a champion ski racer training in Sun Valley for the Olympics when he agreed to join the elite branch of the U.S. Army. It was the early 1940s, and President Roosevelt created the special forces troops to specialize in mountain warfare, using skiing and rock climbing.According to his daughter, Vail resident Trudy Richardson, the Army recruit trained in Canada before spending time at Camp Hale near Leadville for winter survival camping.

“It was ’42 and ’43, and many of the 10th guys, including my dad, came to play and race in Aspen,” she said. “Aspen had no lift at that time – just a boat tow.”Richardson said her dad, with other elite skiers like Gordy Wren, Pete Seibert and Dick Durrance, used to hitchhike to the back of Aspen Mountain in the mining trucks at the time to take some turns. They slept at the Hotel Jerome for $1.50 a night, sleeping on the floor or couches and getting all-you-can-eat breakfasts.Norm Richardson then helped the 10th Mountain Division drive the German army out of northern Italy in World War II. After the war he worked for the Army at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs, training soldiers in skiing and rock climbing.He also continued to race in downhill skiing until 1955, and was inducted into the Vermont Ski Hall of Fame two years ago. Richardson made his mark on Colorado by helping to develop the state’s ski certification program for ski instructors.

“My dad was one of a group of guys who wrote out a test for ski certification – they designed the skills test part of it,” his daughter said. “But out of the 22 people who tried out, only nine of them made it, so they re-wrote the test.”Richardson loved photography and has left a large archive with his daughter of photos of everything from his time with the 10th Mountain Division to Colorado’s earliest skiing. He died Monday, Jan. 24, at his home in Crystal River, Fla. He was 85 years old.His daughter Trudy was born and raised in Colorado and considers preserving her father’s photos a labor of love.

“It look my lifetime to listen to all of his stories, and recently we talked every day on the phone so I could look at each picture and say ‘Who’s this, why are you there and what’s going on?'” she said. “I think people need to be informed about this, which is why I’m making sure his photos are still around.”Norm Richardson’s photos can be viewed at Norman Richardson is survived by his wife, Joyce, of Florida; two daughters, Nancy Ann Potter of Elgin, Okla., and Trudy Jo Richardson of Vail; sister Beverly Trow of Tequesta, Fla.; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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