Phoebe Ryerson, involved in Aspen’s institutions, dies at 85 |

Phoebe Ryerson, involved in Aspen’s institutions, dies at 85

Mary Eshbaugh Hayes
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A woman of many interests, Phoebe Massey Ryerson, died March 21. She would have been 86 years old on April 3.

She was avidly interested in architecture, city planning, railroads, writing, sculpting and painting. Politics were a passion, and she will long be remembered for attending public meetings and voicing her opinions.

Phoebe was born in Winnetka, Ill., where she attended the North Shore Country Day School and New Trier Township High School. She graduated from Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Conn., and she was the first to earn an Associate of Arts degree from Colorado Mountain College in Aspen.

She was married to the late George Wickersham Ryerson, and they lived in Winnetka and then Wayne, Ill. During World War II, when George was a lieutenant commander with the Navy, they lived in Washington, D.C., and Norfolk, Va.

While in Illinois, Phoebe was a member of the Junior League of Chicago and the Women’s Board of the Field Museum. She was founder of the Illinois Prairie Path, Winnetka Community House Nursery School, and Winnetka Children’s Fair.

She moved to Aspen in 1974 after many visits with her husband and children to ski. Phoebe and George were members of Chicago’s Snow Chase Club and planned to come to Aspen when George retired.

After his death at 60 in 1970 in Chicago, Phoebe did move to Aspen and bought a house at 247 Willoughby Way with a fantastic view of Aspen Mountain, Mount Sopris and Independence Pass. When she sold the house several years ago, she moved to an apartment at Concept 600.

In Aspen she was a GrassRoots TV board member early on and produced, directed and hosted “Tell Us About Our Valley” and “Voices of Experience.” She also was a board member of Little Feet and was a fellow of The Aspen Institute. She produced and directed “Peter Pan” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

Phoebe was an unabashed fan of the Aspen Music Festival and School. She attended every concert and provided housing for music students for many years. Spending the summers with Phoebe the last several years was Huang Ruo of Shanghai, China, a graduate student at Juilliard and the Aspen Music Festival.

She also attended Aspen Filmfest, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Wheeler Opera House concerts, and the International Design Conference in Aspen.

Phoebe and George had six children: Bunny Ryerson Harrison (John), John Albert Ryerson (Marcia), Ann Dorothea Ryerson Avenenti (Alfred), George Wickersham Ryerson Jr.; Loren Hamilton Ryerson (Mary), and Edwin (Ned) Warner Ryerson.

Grandchildren include Katie Stallard (Michael), Holly Dahlman, M.D., Clayton Dahlman, Andrew Ryerson (Laura), Susan Espino (Alberto), Rebecca Fahnoe (Chris), Monti Avenenti, Stewart Avenenti (Krista), Loren M. Ryerson, Michael Ryerson, Daniel Ryerson, and Christopher Ryerson.

Other Aspen family include Charlie and Cecelia Martin, and Patrick Theresa and Eleanor. Great-grandchildren include Sarah Stallard, Elizabeth Stallard, Daniel and Adam Ryerson, Alex Espino and Lucas Fahnoe. Nephews are John Massey (Sonia), George B. Massey III (Anne), Frank Massey (Kathy) and their children: Mike, Lani, Paige, Rob, David, Tommy and Emily.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 29, at 3 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church in Aspen. A reception will follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Aspen Music Festival and School Scholarship Fund at 2 Music School Road, Aspen, 81611, or Alpine Bank Aspen for an Aspen High School Scholarship for a student planning on pursuing the arts, the Phoebe Massey Ryerson Memorial Account at Alpine Bank Aspen.

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