Former Aspen mayor dies at 89

Aspen Times Staff

Former Aspen Mayor Harald “Shorty” Pabst, the son and grandson of two of the men who ran Pabst Brewing Co. in Milwaukee, died Monday in Grand Junction at age 89. Pabst, a lifelong rancher, was an executive vice president at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies [now The Aspen Institute], president of the Aspen Meadows, a director at the Aspen Skiing Corp. and a trustee at Colorado Rocky Mountain School. He was also a director of the First Wisconsin National Bank in Milwaukee. He was mayor of Aspen in the early 1960s.Pabst first came to the Roaring Fork Valley after World War II, when he bought a ranch near Carbondale to raise cattle and sheep. The focus of his long ranching career was on raising registered Hereford cattle and selling yearling bulls as breeding stock. Over the years, he owned ranches in Snowmass and Fairplay and near Livingston, Mont.He served several terms as president of the board of trustees at Colorado Rocky Mountain School, which is located on what was once his ranch in Carbondale.In the 1950s, Pabst became an early advocate of zoning and land-use regulation. A student of famed Wisconsin conservationist Aldo Leopold, Pabst stirred controversy while mayor of Aspen by opposing a proposal to host the Winter Olympics in Colorado. He said they would damage the environment and become a burden on the state’s economy.He also opposed paving Independence Pass, which he said would increase access to Aspen by allowing more traffic to come over the Continental Divide from the east.The son of Ida and Fred Pabst of Oconomowoc, Wis., Pabst was preceded in death by his parents and six siblings. His grandfather was Capt. Frederick Pabst, who built the Pabst Brewery into a national company. Although Pabst’s father, Fred, also ran the brewery, he devoted much of his time to raising prize-winning Holstein cattle and Hackney horses at Pabst Farms in Oconomowoc.After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1938, Harald Pabst studied agriculture at both the University of Wisconsin and the University of Arizona. In 1941, he was married to Patricia Lee Johnston, whose father and grandfather ran Milwaukee’s Robert A. Johnston Co., maker of cookies, crackers, candy and various chocolate products.The youngest of seven children, Pabst taught pilots and mechanics about electrical systems in aircraft during WWII. Near the end of the war, he ran Pabst Farms in Oconomowoc.After the war, he and his family moved to a farm near Denver. A few years later, Pabst purchased the ranch in Carbondale.Pabst is survived by his wife, Patricia, who was by his side when he died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease, and by his five children, Nicholas and his wife, Joyce, of Milwaukee; John and his wife, Cathey, of Grand Junction; Kenneth and his wife, Robin, of Boise, Idaho; Tamzin of Encinitas, Calif.; and Ida Vale of Snowmass. Pabst also had 12 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.A service will be held at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Grand Junction at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 15. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be sent to Colorado Rocky Mountain School, 1493 County Road 106, Carbondale, Colo., or St. Benedict’s Monastery, 1012 Monastery Road, Snowmass, CO 81654.