Remembering the late Dave Turner, retired lawyer turned ski instructor

Stephanie, Dave, and May Turner on a ski day at Arapahoe Basin in 2022.
Stephanie Turner/Courtesy photo

An outdoor enthusiast, avid climber, ski buddy, and mountain man are some of the many ways family, friends, and loved ones will remember Buttermilk ski instructor Dave Turner.

“He was a kind person who brought happiness to a lot of people,” said his daughter Stephanie Turner.

Dave, 70, of Basalt, died Jan. 5 after a skiing accident at Aspen Highlands on Jan. 3.

He and his wife, Nancy, relocated to Basalt from Boulder in 2021 to have their favorite outdoor activities right outside their front door, like many others in the Valley.

“(My parents) were drawn to the Roaring Fork Valley for its beauty and easy access the outdoors,” Stephanie said.

Dave and Nancy hiking near the Maroon Bells last summer.
Courtesy of Stephanie Turner

Dave was an avid outdoor enthusiast, his daughter said; all his hobbies revolved around being outside. However, climbing and skiing were his two true passions. He shared his love of the outdoors with Nancy, Stephanie, and her sister, May. As a result, most of their family vacations centered around the outdoors, whether hiking, biking, skiing, or climbing. Owning his law practice allowed him the flexibility to pursue his passions.

“He’s always been a big proponent of work-life balance. We usually take like a three- to four-week road trip together up to Canada for climbing or out to the Pacific Northwest,” Stephanie said.

Before he retired, Dave owned his own law practice focusing on wills, estate planning, and probate. After moving to Basalt, he worked as a ski instructor at Buttermilk and was heading into his second season as a PSIA Alpine Level 2 certified ski instructor.

“He was really happy there and thought (Aspen Skiing Co.) was a great company to work for,” Stephanie said. “He just wanted to share his passion with other people.”

Buttermilk was not Dave’s first experience as a ski instructor. Stephanie had a friend who worked at Loveland Ski Area as a ski instructor and decided she would join her friend as a snowboard instructor. According to Stephanie, her dad thought that was pretty cool and decided to follow suit. Although she only worked there for a season, Dave stuck around for about six.

“He really enjoyed teaching people about his passion of skiing and how to progress their own skiing,” she said.

Dave was a man of many passions and talents. Stephanie said, when she was growing up, her dad’s true passion was climbing.

“In his younger years, was a climbing instructor Outward Bound in North Carolina,” she said.

His passion for climbing inspired his some of his volunteer work. As a member of the Access Fund, Dave worked to make climbing more accessible through sustainable access and conservation of the climbing environment. He also was a founding member of Flatirons Climbing Council and helped work with the city of Boulder to allow new climbing routes to be put up in the Flatirons.

Dave Turner received the Blue Grama Award from the Colorado Open Space Alliance in 2021 for his work with the Flatirons Climbing Council.
Courtesy of Stephanie Turner

In lieu of flowers, the family asked for donations to Flatiron Climbing Council, the Access Fund, or Doctors Without Borders. Stephanie said her dad’s law background helped him at the Flatiron Climbing Council, and they chose Doctors Without Borders because it was something he always donated to.

She described her father as “an incredibly humble person,” and many of his climbing and skiing accomplishments went unknown because of it.

“Even in our tight-knit family, we don’t really know what they are because he never bragged about being the first one to do something,” she said.

His many accomplishments on the mountains are moments shared between him and whomever he did it with, she added.

The family has been touched by how kind Dave was to his friends, even ones he had just met on hut trips. Stephanie said one woman shared a memory on the Everloved page about a hut trip to Canada when Dave sought someone out because he hadn’t skied with her yet and asked to ski with her the next day.

“The next day,” the memory from Mandie Majerus reads, “I got to rip around with Dave, playing follow-the-leader. My favorite kind of skiing. I have often thought of that kind gesture during other situations … I won’t forget that kindness.”

A celebration of life will be held for Dave on June 11 at the Koenig Alumni Center in Boulder.