James ‘Jim’ Oliver Holton
James “Jim” Oliver Holton passed away unexpectedly at his home in Basalt, CO on Tuesday November 17th in the company of those he loved. Jim was 59 years old and was born on May 4th, 1956 in Roanoke, VA. His two sons, Jonathan and Jason Holton as well as two brothers, William “Bill” and Charles”Van” and sister Jessie Graybill, survive him. Jimmy was preceded in death by his brother Edward, and parents Jessie Carpenter and Charles VanGorder Holton Sr.
Jimmy was an artist, loyal friend, beloved father and a source of strength and inspiration for the many people that knew him.In his youth, Jim was an avid reader, outdoorsman, swimmer and football player. He traversed the Blue Ridge and Great Smokey Mountains with his sister, brothers, and friends on many fishing and camping trips. Jim was also a gifted artist; he developed talent in woodworking, metalworking, carving, jewelry making, engraving, and many others throughout his life.
Jim moved to Colorado as a young man and settled first in Denver where he attended Metro State College and the Culinary Arts Institute. Jim worked in Denver as a chef and his love for the mountains eventually drew him to the Roaring Fork Valley.Jim’s cooking talents led to jobs at the Copper Kettle in Aspen, DiMaggio’s At The Frying Pan andChefy’sin Basalt.
While working at the Frying Pan he met his future wife, Jennifer Terrell Deweese. They were married in 1983, and settled in to the Cap-K Ranch outside of Basalt. Jim then began to rebuild the North Fork Timber Company harvesting timber from White River National Forest in the upper Frying Pan drainages. Work was often interrupted by mushroom-picking excursions in search of chanterelles and king boletus. The following year their first son, Jonathan Carpenter Holton, was born and in 1987 Jason James Holton followed.
The family began building Jim’s dream, a log home on 40 acres with workshops, a barn and outbuildings. It was his greatest delight to teach his young sons the wonders of the mountains. The Father’s Day camping trip and hunting seasons were some of his favorite times. He hunted all over the Roaring Fork Valley and it’s various tributaries, creating lasting friendships throughout the community. There are many that will miss chasing Jimmy and the elk overthe highest ridgelines surrounding the Frying Pan River Valley.
After the North Fork Timber Company closed its doors, Jim pursued a career with the Aspen Skiing Company at Snowmass Ski Resort. Jim began grooming at Snowmass and eventually ended up helping to expand and improve the snowmaking program. He worked tirelessly every season to ensure the best possible conditions and served as a leader and role model for countless people over his tenure there. Snowmakers, Cat Drivers and many others often arrived at the compressor building to find homemade feasts prepared for them on the long, cold nights leading up to opening day.
Jim eventually went on to work for the Town of Basalt as the Streets Foreman. Friends would often receive a wave and a big smile from Jimmy as he rolled by in a plow truck on snowy winter days. His free time was often spent honing his skills on the wood lathe, experimenting with new artistic mediums, or cooking wonderful meals for friends and family at his home on the banks of the Roaring Fork River.
A celebration of Jim’s life will be held at 2pm on Saturday December 5th at 17948 Highway 82 (just off of the frontage road near the Alpine Animal Hospital). All are welcome to attend, and to share their favorite memories of Jimmy. Feel free to bring a potluck dish.