World-class parties were Aspen man’s specialty
November 27, 2005
A ski run on Aspen Mountain has been named after him, and his reputation persists to this day as one of Aspen’s major party patrons in the middle years of the resort’s heyday.Gene Francis Reardon, to whom a run on the Ruthie’s side of Aspen Mountain is dedicated, died on Nov. 16 at a hospital in Denver after suffering a stroke in Aspen on Oct. 25. He was 75.”He was an amazing visionary who loved to have an extraordinary time,” said one of his close friends in Aspen, Diana Rumsey.”He was handsome and personable, and always the perfect gentleman,” added another longtime friend, photographer and former Aspen Times Editor Mary Eshbaugh Hayes.
Hayes said Reardon was a founder of some of Aspen’s better-known holiday-season parties, including the Wine Party, said to be the longest-running annual bash on Aspen Mountain, and the annual Fish House Punch party, which circulated among different hotels around town over the years.According to a message from Reardon’s sister, Julie, who lives in Denver, Reardon was born in Washington, D.C., on July 13, 1930, to Julie C. and Gene. W. Reardon. He attended St. Francis Xavier grade school in Kansas City, Mo., and high school at Rockhurst (a Jesuit school), also in Kansas City.He was quarterback and captain of his high school football team, played on the all-city basketball team, and played baseball in the semiprofessional Ben Johnson league.Known as both an excellent scholar and athlete, he graduated from high school after three years and received contract offers to play professional baseball with Philadelphia or the Pittsburgh Pirates. But he declined those offers in order to finish his college years at the University of Missouri, and pursue a career in law.
A member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, he graduated from Missouri in 1951, and then joined the U.S. Navy with the rank of ensign. He retired from military service after serving in the Reserves, with the rank of Commander, and entered law school.Reardon graduated from the University of Missouri law school in 1958 and became a trial lawyer with the Internal Revenue Service. He earned his master’s degree at the University of Southern California while working at the IRS, and in 1961 he retired from the IRS and moved to Denver to practice law with his father and sister in the Reardon, Reardon & Reardon firm.He stayed with that practice until approximately 1985, when he met Vibecca Traulson, a model from Copenhagen, Denmark. They married in New York City and then moved to Aspen, where Gene was already known as a world-class party organizer, and where he lived until his death.In 1997 he married Diana Towle in Kauai, Hawaii, and the couple lived together in Aspen. The two raised a son, Max, 14, currently enrolled in a prep school in Kent, Conn.
In January 2004, Reardon began teaching at the University of Missouri law school as a professor in the masters of taxation program.Michael Wilkie will host a memorial service in Chicago on Dec. 5, 2005, and a service will follow in Aspen on Dec. 27.(Editor’s note: An companion obituary from the family is to be published in a future edition of The Aspen Times.)