Remembering Dale Potvin

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
Sally and Dale Potvin, center, with daughter Layne, left, and son Ryan.
Courtesy photo |

Celebration of life today for Dale Potvin

The Potvin family invites the community to celebrate Dale Potvin’s life and legacy at Bumps restaurant at the base of Buttermilk Mountain, today at 3:30 p.m. A service will take place followed by a reception.

The Potvin family invites people to bring memories and pictures from their adventures with Dale.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that guests make a donation in Dale’s name to the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, where Dale served as a passionate board member, president, and volunteer.

In the winter of 1972, Sally Oinonen and Dale Potvin met at a locals’ ski clinic during Aspen’s annual Winterskol celebration.

Twenty-five-year-old Dale had moved to Aspen from Seattle to become a ski instructor three years prior.

Sally found herself in Aspen on a whim, after hitchhiking across Europe with her boyfriend — who, luckily for Dale, she broke up with after the trip.

On her way home from Europe, the San Francisco native decided she wasn’t ready to return to the city and stopped in a little mountain town in Colorado.

Sally said she wanted to learn a new sport, which is how she met her ski instructor and future husband of 41 years.

Dale died in his home April 7 following a two-year battle with brain cancer.

The longtime local’s Aspen roots, legacy and the people he touched runs deep. Friends and family say they remember him for his enthusiastic spirit and leadership; his positive, can-do attitude; and his passion for the outdoors, life and the people he shared with it.

In the ’70s, Dale co-founded Aspen Kayak School and Aspen and Vail White Water Adventures, and in the mid-’80s, he started the real estate group Peak Properties of Aspen.

Layne Shea, Dale and Sally’s daughter, said her father formed deep relationships with his clients, who became close family friends with the Potvins.

“He did more than sell them a house,” Layne said. “He got to know his clients and became close with so many of them, and really brought them into the Aspen lifestyle.”

For the Potvin family, the “Aspen lifestyle” meant as much time spent outdoors — whether it was hiking, biking, kayaking or skiing — with one another as possible.

In 2011, Dale merged his company with another local real estate firm to form Stirling Peak Properties.

Stirling Peak Properties co-founder and friend of more than 40 years, Bill Stirling, remembered Dale as a consummate professional and “one wonderful guy.”

Ryan Potvin, Dale and Sally’s son, said his father was a true leader.

“People really trusted him,” Ryan said. “He had no agenda besides he just loved being around people, showing them the wonderful things Aspen had to offer.”

Lyrics of singer-songwriter Leon Russell’s 1970 ballad “A Song for You” remind Sally of Dale, who said her husband was her best friend.

Her two favorite lines in the song: “I love you in a place where there’s no space or time / I love you for in my life you are a friend of mine.”

Sally and Dale played the song at their wedding in 1974, which took place at their home and consisted solely of themselves and two witnesses.

“That’s what I’ll miss most,” Sally said. “We just did so much together. And we had a wonderful life.”