Obituary: John Doremus

John Doremus 1926 – 2020

At 93, John Doremus passed away quietly in his sleep on May 31 from complications due to Alzheimer’s.

John was born in Philadelphia in 1926 to Jack and Marion Doremus. He grew up there and in New York. After serving in the Army in Denver he went to Earldom, a Quaker college in Indiana. He graduated and went home to South Philadelphia where his father had invested in a box factory. He had worked there for a few years when he ran into Jim Adams, a friend from Earlham. Jim told John about Aspen – “This is where it’s happening” – and the two drove cross country in November 1951. Jim arranged a job for John at the Hotel Jerome as a bellhop. “The job didn’t start for 2 weeks and I only had $5 in my pocket.” Jim took John over to the Golden Horn Restaurant where Steve Knowlton, the owner said: “Hi, John, welcome to Aspen. How much do you need?” “He had known me for 30 seconds and he loaned me $50 bucks. That was my introduction to Aspen!

Let’s just say those boys had a lot of fun working at the Jerome!!

His experience at the Hotel led to starting his first business, House Care, a property management company. He became a real estate broker (1954) when the homeowners asked him to sell their houses! Time for a change, in 1961, he sold John Doremus Real Estate. He thought he might go into government service when he decided to accept a job offer from architect Fritz Benedict where he spent 8 wonderful years learning land-use planning. Their projects included, among others, Red Mountain Ranch and Meadowood. From there he became an independent consultant working for Edgar Stern on Starwood and Deer Valley Ski Resort. Over the years, he especially appreciated and shared the sensitivity these men, as well as other developers, had for the land in creating big and small projects. Another of John’s projects was taking on the lengthy, controversial challenge of getting the approvals for the Ritz Carlton Hotel development. Finished with that he, went back to real estate.

In those early years, he was part of establishing the first Board of Realtors creating the town’s Zoning Regulations and was Aspen’s first Building Inspector. In 1966, John started the Pitkin County Parks Association now known s The Aspen Valley Land Trust. At about the same time, he joined the board of the (MAA) Music Associates of Aspen (AMFS) serving as secretary (25 years) and one of the Grounds Keepers. He worked alongside Edgar and Fritz in designing and building the campus. Robert Harth gave John the honor of making him a Life Trustee and most recently, thanks to Gene and Dana Powell, his name was placed on one of the practice rooms. in 2006 he was named Realtor of the Year for his many years of service to the community.

2006 also brought retirement to San Francisco. He served on the Parks Committee for the Nob Hill Association, served on his Condominium Board and joined Graffiti Watches spending long hours scrubbing down his neighborhood.

He did work he loved with people he loved in the cities he loves. He embraced all that Aspen had to offer – loved skiing, biking, hiking and summer music. In San Francisco, he loved nothing more than getting up every day to run around the city. He was a gentle soul and a gentleman.

In accordance with John’s wishes, there will be no memorial service of any kind. As he wished, his ashes were distributed over the ocean in San Francisco.

He was proceed in death by his parents, brother Tom and sister Joanne. He leaves behind his wife, Pamela Toon, 3 children, Andrew (Jeanne), Ian (Julie), Fenell (Vito), 10 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.