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Roland “Red” Leavitt was born in Milton, N.H., in October 1925. He died Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015.
Skiing was the highlight of “Red’s” life. As a young boy, he spent his winters skiing every chance he could, “thumbing” rides to and from the ski areas each weekend.
He made his first run down the infamous Tuckerman’s Ravine in the spring of 1939 at age 14, and for the next 11 years he looked forward to the spring skiing adventures in the White Mountains of North Conway.
At the urging of one of his New England ski pals, he made his way to Colorful Colorado in November 1950 and fell in love with Aspen. Red was immediately hired on with the “Ajax” (Aspen Mountain) Ski Patrol. He always loved sharing stories of “shushing” Ruthie’s Run (on 220’s) at the end of the day, and skiing right up to the front of the Red Onion, where he waited tables at night.
He made his way to Sun Valley, but returned to Aspen shortly, stating “the snow conditions couldn’t compare to Aspen’s.” He soon met a girl named Elaine, who worked the front desk of the Hotel Jerome, and who would become his wife of 57 years. They married in 1952, and a year later, moved to Denver—Elaine’s home town.
Continuing on with his skiing, Red was in the initial class of instructors to be fully certified by the Rocky Mountain Ski Instructors Association. He instructed on weekends at Loveland Ski area for 13 years and then moved to Winter Park for another 13 years with their ski school.
By trade, he was a union plumber and received his 60 year pin from Denver Local No. 3 this year. In the spring of 2009, after his wife passed away, Red left their Northglenn home of 50 years and moved to Meeker to be near his daughter. It didn’t take him long to grow accustomed to the “small town” friendliness and easy living. He was a member of the Meeker Lions Club and always looked forward to the fun atmosphere, visiting and card games every Tuesday night.
He loved hockey and enjoyed playing golf as well as watching them both on TV.
We recently celebrated his 90th birthday with an open house. Lots of friends and family surprised him, and took part in lots of good visiting, live music, food and drink. A week after the party he proclaimed, “David (Cole) played such fine music that people heard it and flocked to the house.” He will be remembered for his wit, kind spirit and tenacious ways.
Red passed away peacefully under the care of hospice at Pioneers Medical Center with his daughter and family near.
He was preceded in death by: his parents; one sister; his wife, Elaine; and two nephews.
Remembering him with lots of love: his daughter, Toby; three grandsons, Nick Smith (Alysha), Landon Smith (Silvia) of Meeker, Jerod Smith of Craig; two great grandchildren, Copen and Blake; a brother-in-law, Gerald Klaus of Grand Junction; nephew David Klaus (Celia) of New Mexico; four great nieces, Linda, Paula, Kathy and Patty; and a nephew, Daniel, all of the East Coast.
A memorial service will be held at Saint James Church at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, followed by dinner at 6 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to HopeWest-Meeker, 575 3rd St., Meeker Lions Club, P.O. Box 985, or St. James Endowment Fund, P.O. Box 641, all in Meeker.