Joy Maxwell Caudill
Joy, daughter of Ruth and Ray Maxwell, grew up in Denver, a third generation Coloradan. Her father loved the out-of-doors, so whenever possible her family would head for the mountains. They spent many full days together camping, fishing, hiking and just exploring. They would go skiing in the winter or ice skate on Evergreen Lake above Denver.
In the late ’30s very close friends, Bob and Virginia Burlingame bought a ranch near Aspen, where the airport is now. The Maxwells were invited to spend a month each summer on the ranch. For Joy this was heaven.
After Joy’s graduation from high school, and much to her delight they moved to Aspen and bought an acreage of land from the Skiff family on lower Maroon Creek below Red Butte. There they hand built a log house, a ceramics studio, and two cabins which they rented to visitors.
Aspen was a vital exciting young ski town in the late ’40s. Joy, with her parents, developed a line of custom-made personalized ceramics called Aspen Craft. Joy spent her time taking orders and painting the slip cast pieces at a desk in the back corner of Aspen Sports. They also had a small exhibit in the Hotel Jerome.
She met architect Sam Caudill in Aspen in 1951 and they were married in 1952 in the Aspen Community Church. They built their home, designed by Sam, across Maroon Creek from the Maxwells, moving there in 1955.
Sam and Joy subsequently had five red-headed kids within six years: Jody, Julie, Boone Robin, and Anne. Those were busy years, living on Maroon Creek with a pond in the back; horses and donkeys in a corral out front. It was the perfect place to raise a family. Joy, a frontier woman at heart, was skilled at fly-fishing, making or breaking camp even in the pouring rain, training horses, pulling out beaver dams, irrigating, growing vegetables, fixing the plumbing or plowing the driveway. Cooking a good meal was in there, too.
Joy felt it was important to introduce her family, including Sam, to the same intimacy with the natural world that had meant so much to her as a child. As soon as the children were old enough the Caudills began camping every weekend during the summer in favorite places like Lincoln Creek, East Maroon, and Lead King Basin. Those camp trips overrode any other potential commitments. When the kids could carry backpacks, hikes and backpack trips to the high lakes were interspersed with the car camping. Fishing in high-mountain lakes was a favorite pastime, with everyone rising at four in the morning to be on the trail by dawn, much to the dismay of the children who felt this was a bit extreme.
In 1959, Connie and Harold Harvey bought the Maxwell place when Ruth and Ray decided to simplify their lives by moving into Aspen. Connie and Joy soon discovered they shared a common desire to protect the surrounding high country in as wild a state as possible. With the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act, they began attending meetings and writing letters; the process that would eventually evolve into the formation of the Aspen Wilderness Workshop in 1967.
Thus began a whole new phase in Joy’s life. She was deeply involved for over fifteen years, sometimes putting in as many as forty 40 a week, both days and evenings. Her family became accustomed to the dining room table layered with topo maps, and Mom on the phone responding to the latest issue. She ended up with an extensive education in communication, politics, and the Wilderness process. It all culminated in the passage of the Colorado Wilderness Bill in 1980, that doubled the size of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, and brought many other areas within the state into the Wilderness System. Included were the Hunter-Fryingpan, Collegiate Peaks, Raggeds, and West Elks Wilderness Areas, all projects of the Workshop partnering with other groups.
After member and friend, Dottie Fox agreed to chair the Aspen Wilderness Workshop in the mid-eighties, Joy found time to begin working with clay again. She also resumed painting, joining Dottie’s watercolor classes on camping expeditions to the Utah desert. She began to exhibit her watercolors, participating in local shows at the Aspen Chapel Gallery among others. She preferred to paint mountains — especially her beloved high peaks.
Honoring her grassroots wilderness efforts, Joy received the 1980 American Wilderness and Conservation Award presented by the American Wilderness Alliance for outstanding work in conservation. She also received the Sierra Club Foundation Certificate of Special Recognition along with Connie and Dottie for stewardship of the Earth. In 1998, she and Sam were inducted into the Aspen Hall of Fame, she for her wilderness preservation work.
In 2004 she and Sam sold the house on Maroon Creek and moved to Carbondale. Sam passed away in 2007. From the house on Prince Creek, Joy had an unobstructed view of Mount Sopris. This fulfilled a life long dream, providing her with a forever-changing subject for her watercolor paintings. And of course the “great room” continued to fill with family gatherings, which were the focus of her life up until the last day.
Joy passed peacefully early Sunday morning, January 27th, surrounded by loving family and in the presence of “her mountain.” She is survived by her five children, Jody Cardamone (Tom), Julie Hertzberg (Greg), Boone Caudill (Janelle), Robin Caudill (Janice), Anne Goertzen (Todd), eleven grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, Ruth and Ray Maxwell, her sister Jean Wren, and husband of 55 years, Sam Caudill.
A celebration of her life will take place in mid-May. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Wilderness Workshop or a conservation organization of your choice.
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