Missing Merrill

Dear Editor:

A hearty thanks – as usual – to Mary Eshbaugh Hayes for (in this case) her exceptional eulogy to our friend Merrill Ford (Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010, The Aspen Times).

Merrill was indeed one of the last grandes dames of Aspen, for a thousand reasons not the least because of her welcomes to newcomers, her quick intelligence and because she knew how to laugh at herself.

I’ll never forget her recounting her arrival in town with perhaps more East Coast values than Aspen ones, and advertising for a nanny for her children; it took her a day or two to realize that the English nanny, the French mademoiselle and the Swiss governess who had immediately replied to her ad (and made appointments for which they had not shown up!) were all calls from Fabi Benedict letting Merrill in on true Colorado values.

The first winter I spent partly in Aspen, Merrill insisted on coming to say “good-bye” to me through the snow and ice when I left for NYC, bringing Fabi and putting tall witches hats on both their heads; was this because she was some variant of a witch? No. It was because she was bewitching…

I’ll miss her terribly.

Christopher Walling

New York City