December 11, 2006
Longtime Aspen resident Jim Snobble died Friday, Dec. 8, from natural causes.Jim was born Feb. 8, 1919, in South Haven, Mich., but spent most of his childhood and youth on Chicago’s North Shore. He graduated from Highland Park High School in June 1937 and matriculated at Washington and Lee University that fall. After four jolly years of studies, in addition to competing on the swim and track teams, he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in geology.
Following graduation in June 1941, World War II seemed a certainty, and after much reflection and “squeaking by the registered literacy tests,” Jim joined the Navy. Following successful completion of the Officers Candidate Training Program at Cornell University, he was assigned to the backwaters of the Port Director’s Office in Cristobal, an Atlantic terminal port near the Panama Canal.Jim’s repeated requests to leave Cristobal resulted in a new assignment to the Naval Amphibious Training Base in Norfolk and Little Creek, Va. These bases served as staging points for shipment to Fort Pierce, Fla., where relevant beach landing training began. After training, he assisted the precommissioning activities for the launching of the attack transport USS Shelby, to which he was later assigned.The Shelby, with sea trials completed, was immediately ordered to the South Pacific, and Jim was aboard as, at first, the assistant beachmaster of the naval beach group and later as beachmaster. He participated in the battle of Okinawa and in landings during the initial occupation of Japan on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu.
After World War II, Jim came to Colorado and worked in sales for Bond Crown and Cork Corp., a division of Continental Can Corp. He made his way to Aspen in 1947, and shortly thereafter settled in “the best place a guy could ask for.”In addition to his sales work, Jim became a member of the “old” Aspen Ski School in 1950. Sales work, a lodge partnership and the ski school occupied his time until the early 1960s when a full-time job opportunity arose in the Aspen Skiing Co. As a result, he turned his attention to the challenge of initiating and completing the planning and feasibility studies for the proposed Snowmass Ski Area. In this capacity, he teamed up with and at the same time developed lasting friendships with such people as Art Bowls, Darcy Brown, Jesse Caparrella, Tom Marshall, Bill Mencimer, Hal Hartman, Tom Richardson and Don Rayburn.Predicated on the team’s studies, the Aspen Skiing Co. moved forward with the development of the Snowmass Ski Area. It was this group, along with others, which was given the task of turning dreams into reality. The ski area opened Saturday, Dec. 16, 1967, and Jim served as vice president and area manager until his retirement in June 1984.
Over the years, Jim spent nearly all his vacation time making numerous solo canoe trips into Canada’s arctic Northwest Territories. The remoteness of the arctic, the thrill of canoeing and the wolves he observed left an indelible mark in his heart. Upon retirement he frequently traveled north to canoe and from his home in Snowmass Village, pursued his passions of skiing, backpacking, fly-fishing, golfing and misbehaving, but not necessarily in this order. He is survived by his daughter, Heidi Johnson, of Concord, N.H.Friends are holding a celebratory gathering in memory of Jim on Saturday, Dec. 16. Saturday’s gathering is not a formal memorial, rather a way for friends to talk and reflect on his wonderful life. The get-together begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Daly Room at the Snowmass Club.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.