BY KAREN BOSSICK
Dozens of Boulder Mountain Tour and World Masters ski medals hang behind the bedroom door in Joanne Davis’ Edelweiss condominium.
And at 75, Davis is still collecting them—a testament to the fitness level of this perky blond dynamo whose 118-pound frame still boasts the 22-inch waist she sported as an airline hostess.
Davis is a familiar sight on Baldy and Nordic trails during winter. Come summer she can be spotted jogging six miles each morning and ushering at the Sun Valley Summer Symphony by night.
It was Symphony leaders who nominated her for the 2011 Blaine County Heritage Court in honor of the 17 years she’s ushered alongside her husband Brack Davis.
“I’ve gotten to know all kinds of people through ushering,” reminisces Joanne, who was crowned at the Heritage Court’s annual coronation Sunday at The Liberty Theatre. “And it’s been fun to watch the symphony get better and better. It’s absolutely first-class.”
The daughter of a Seattle shipping supplier, Joanne Ingraham first came to Sun Valley as a 13-year-old who had won “Most Improved Skier” in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Ski School at Snoqualmie Pass.
She was so taken with Sun Valley that she returned every winter thereafter with her family.
“The antelope and elk came right under the chairlift on River Run and the ski instructors were so nice. And, as someone who was used to skiing in bad weather, I couldn’t believe the sunshine. The best thing was that you could get a tan. I didn’t even know what a tan was in those days,” says the perky woman who often wears her neck-length platinum blonde hair in pigtails.
Joanne was especially taken with the year of the big snow in 1951 when seven feet of snow on the valley floor forced skiers to walk through a snow tunnel to the Alpine Bar and the snow was even with bus roofs, affording elk the opportunity to walk on house roofs.
“We came right after four people were killed in an avalanche that released from Lookout,” she recalls. “We skied around the big trenches they dug looking for them where the Seattle chair is now. It was scary because we were always looking over our shoulder to see if it was going to slide again.”
Joanne was a flight attendant for Pan-Am when she caught the eye of Brack, a young intern who lived across the street from her at the time.
“She had on that beautiful uniform and was flying to romantic places like Hawaii and Hong Kong. I was nothing I was just a lonely intern then,” recalls Brack.
Joanne, meanwhile, saw Brack as her ticket to what is now the Mt. Rose ski area near Reno since he had a car and she didn’t.
The couple was married 51 years ago in 1960—the year JFK became president. And it took no time at all before the newlyweds were making ski trips to Sun Valley a family tradition.
Davis became the orthopedic equivalent of a circuit-riding preacher, covering Placerville, Auburn and Sacramento. And Joanne stayed at home in Roseville raising the couple’s three children.
From 1981 to 1993 Brack served as team physician for the San Francisco 49ers, tending to their contusions during the Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young years when the 49ers won five Super Bowls. Joanne sat in the 49ers suite and accompanied Brack to games in Barcelona and other foreign cities when the NFL tried to export football worldwide.
“Diane Feinstein came into the suite once and talked up a storm. She thought I was important, but I wasn’t,” Joanne recalls.
In 1983 the Davises bought the retirement home in Sun Valley that they had always dreamed of. Brack commuted while he finished up his orthopedic work, while Joanne served on the board of the Sun Valley Ski Club and began training for cross-country ski races.
Her hard work paid off. In 1992 she was crowned U.S. Masters Nordic Champion just before winning Masters World Cup in the 20K.
“My favorite trail is Proctor Loop at the Sun Valley Nordic Center because you have a feeling of getting out there,” she says. “It’s so incredibly well groomed, and the people are so friendly. And I love the new Nordic Center.”
Come July and August, Davis puts her feet to the trail as she runs up Baldy in the Shop to the Top and other fun races. Then she trades her running shoes for sandals as she hands out symphony programs.
“Of course, the setting is magnificent. I go to the city and all I see is buildings. Here you have mountains, the changing weather…. It’s the most majestic place on earth.”
BY KAREN BOSSICK
When a black man in his 70s found himself homeless, Betsy Pearson issued him an invitation. “Come live with us,” she said.
The man, who had been a maitre’d, ended up living with Betsy and her husband Bob for 30 years, jumping at every opportunity to pay them back by donning his white coat and draping a towel over his arm for the couple’s frequent dinner parties.
The spacious yard tucked in the woods surrounding the four-bedroom, four-bath log home Betsy designed off Lower Broadford Road in 1972 never lacks for human companionship, whether it be for the family’s large family reunions or Monday night volleyball matches that lure teen-agers and 73-year-olds alike.
And when Betsy’s friends give her a moment, you’ll find this 89-year-old woman painting a landscape to benefit the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, the animal shelter or another charity. She even climbed aboard a scaffold at 82 to paint a 10-foot tall painting for the Sagebrush Arena’s annual Cowboy Ball.
Pearson will be honored for her contributions to the Wood River Valley on June 19 when she and three other women are inducted into the Blaine County Heritage Court.
Like the other three, she was not born in the valley. But she fast fell in love with it and the valley fast fell in love with her.
“She just jumped in when she got here, joining boards all over town,” said her son Brad Pearson. “She always told me one of the great blessings of her art was she was allowed to give back. And she has a big heart that doesn’t limit family to blood. She’s always taking in someone who’s fallen on hard times.”
Pearson was born in Salinas, Kan., the daughter of an insurance man who treated his family to summer vacations at a cabin in Minnesota. After getting an art degree at the University of Kansas, she followed her older sister to New York where she got a job as art director at Lord & Taylor, a high-fashion Fifth Avenue department store.
That eventually led to a job at the New York Herald Tribune where she wrote and illustrated a syndicated column on parenting for 17 years in the days when no one else was doing that sort of thing. Eventually, she parlayed those columns into two books full of tips you don’t find in the newspaper every day even today.
“ABCs for Mothers,” for instance, tells how to restore crayon points by warming the crayons in the sun or oven, shaping the points and putting the crayons in the freezer. It tells how starch in a baby’s bathwater forms an invisible coating on the skin that combats heat rash.
But it was art that defined Betsy’s life. She sold expensive pieces in Greenwich, Conn., where the family lived. She is still painting and selling her landscapes. And it wasn’t too many years ago that she wrote and illustrated “A Sun Valley Journal,” a charming book depicting paintings of Sun Valley icons.
“I was born to draw. From the time I was little I was happiest when I had something to draw with,” she said. “And I love this country. I’m a soil girl. I love the field and the animals. The vistas have always drawn me.”
Pearson fell in love with her late husband Robert when he walked her university sorority house wearing a crisp Navy uniform but she didn’t begin dating him until she got to New York.
“I had more fun with him than anyone else and that was it,” she said, of her husband, a newspaper man who wrote speeches for Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman while in the Navy.
The couple had three children—Brad, who edited “Heartland” magazine; Ridley, who writes best-selling detective novels, and Wendy, a teacher.
They made music together—Betsy plunking the gut bucket bass on “Five foot Two Eyes of Blue.” And they played together, as well.
“Betsy was always organizing modern art days where we’d go to museums and then we’d go home and throw paint at the canvas,” recalled Brad. “She didn’t even bat an eye when I told her I wanted to put a pole vault in the backyard. And she never blinked when you told her you were bringing six people over for dinner. She cooked dinner every night for 63 years until my Dad died and it was effortless for her to feed an army.”
The board of Croy Canyon Ranch recently threw a luncheon honoring Pearson’s Heritage Court nomination. Board President, Jeanne Cassell, said Pearson, a member of the founding board of the continuing care community, has always been vigilant in reminding board members of seniors’ needs.
“She’s always saying, ‘Have you called so and so?’ And she doesn’t mean just to say, ‘Hello.’ She means, ‘Have you asked them for money?’” Cassell said.
Marcia Duff says a Jackson Hole friend encouraged her to look up Betsy Pearson as soon as she moved to the valley. “Now she’s one of my dearest friends. Not only is she a wonderful artist but she has mastered the art of friendship. She knows how to connect. And she’s such a good listener.”
BY KAREN BOSSICK
Wednesday was a seed sorting day for Maxine Molyneux. But at 81 she’s milked her last cow.
“When I got past 80, I gave that up,” she laughed.
She milked plenty before that day came, however. And you’d expect that from a woman who’s idea of success is “Bend over, get to work and don’t look up.”
Molyneux, who lives at the end of Gannett Road in Picabo, has been a lifelong worker—one of the attributes that prompted the Trailing of the Sheep Festival organizers to nominate her to the Blaine County Museum’s Heritage Court. She will be crowned along with three other women at 3 p.m. June 19 in the Liberty Theatre in Hailey.
Molyneux grew up in Murtaugh where her father ran the pump station at Milner Dam.
She and her siblings worked in the fields hoeing beans, spuds and onions from the time the school bus dropped them off at the end of the year until it came for them again in fall. They were paid in milk and eggs.
She moved to Twin Falls to live with her sister as she started her freshman year of high school. But she quickly got back to the business of farming when she married her high school sweetheart–Bill Molyneux—at 17.
“He was in the Future Farmers of America and I was president of the Future Homemakers of America so we had a lot of activities together. He was tall, blond and good looking—that was good enough for me,” said Maxine.
“She’s the best damn thing I’ve ever run across,” said her husband of 63 years admiringly.
The newlyweds moved to Kimberly. But, eventually, Bill joined his father and uncle on 880 acres near Picabo where they grew hay, spuds, and the first batch of barley in the Wood River Valley that was made into Coors beer.
“Bill had a hell of a reputation for being a good farmer,” said Maxine, recounting her husband’s Cattleman of the Year and Farmer of the Year awards. “We moved with three kids and five milk cows. And I milked those cows for 46 years. Even now it’s painful getting milk from the store. I like cream in my milk—you can tell by looking at me.”
Bill and Maxine raised five children and a grandchild—Nina, Chip, Clyde, Billy, John and Justin on their farm, which sits in plain view of the distinctive Queen’s Crown. Unlike so many families, the children have stuck close to home with three of them continuing to farm in the area.
Maxine did her share of farm work. She drove the tractor digging irrigation ditches. She made countless trips to Twin Falls to pick up farm implement parts, always taking a houseful of kids with her. She helped haul and stack hay. And then she washed her hands and fixed dinners of chicken dumplings and beef stroganoff for the 20 or so men on the harvesting crew.
Somehow she found time to help out away from the farm, as well. She cooked for banquets at the LDS church in Carey. She ran food booths in the Pioneer Days celebration and rodeo for 25 years. She led a Cub Scout troop for 11 years. And she sewed Little League uniforms and taught cooking and sewing to 4-H girls.
Her kids recently compiled a compilation of her recipes and theirs into a book called “Molyneux Meals.” And they tossed in some Maxisms, for good measure, including Maxine’s rule for a happy marriage: Don’t ever fight and do a lot of cooking.”
Today Maxine still cans tomatoes, peaches and pears from her garden, which was once the size of a corral. In her spare time, she quilts afghans for her 22 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
“I just like being home,” she said. “We never ever used to go to town. We entertained ourselves—people came from all over to play cards or square dance in our living room. It’s nice country here. We don’t have everybody looking over our shoulder. We have plenty of room.”
BY KAREN BOSSICK
Theresa Richards would be up for Best Supporting Role if the Wood River Valley ever handed out its own version of the Oscars.
The Hailey homemaker supported her late husband Art while he served as the valley’s only dentist for many years. And later she took care of the couple’s eight children while Art built Rotarun ski area west of Hailey.
For her efforts, Theresa will be inducted into the Blaine County Historical Museum Heritage Court at 3 p.m. Sunday at The Liberty Theatre in Hailey.
An Iowa farm girl, Theresa studied at a hospital nursing school in Council Bluffs, Iowa. World War II had just ended, she recalled, and the only careers available to women were nursing and teaching.
She was working in a hospital in Minneapolis when she met Art, who cleaned her teeth as part of his dental school regimen.
Anxious to get away from “the flatlands,” Art made a trip through Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon, settling in the Wood River Valley where he could ski, hunt and fish to his heart’s content.
“He wrote and said he’d found a job for me in Sun Valley and that he thought I’d like it. I moved here in 1953 and haven’t regretted it,” said Theresa.
Theresa worked the winter at the Sun Valley Hospital on the third floor of the Sun Valley Lodge. The 10 beds were always full, thanks to ski accidents, she said. And when she and Art got married the following spring, one of the patients who had been laid up for several weeks with a broken leg volunteered his cabin near Hayden Lake for their honeymoon.
The following winter Art traded dental work with his patients—many of whom were ski instructors–to teach his bride how to ski.
“They took me to a gentle slope on Baker Mountain and I thought I was on top of Everest,” Theresa recalled. “Then I moved to Half-Dollar, Dollar then Baldy. The Ski Patrol used to offer me a ride down the mountain but I gritted my teeth and said, ‘I’m going to learn this.’”
Hailey was a town of 1,200 people then—the perfect size for a family which had eight kids in 11 years.
“My kids played all day long and I never worried about them—everybody looked out for them,” Teresa said.
Once the six boys got big enough, Art and Sav Uberagua put them to work pulling up sagebrush on what would become Rotarun.
“Even people who didn’t have kids went out to help,” recalled Theresa. “It was a great place to take the kids and watch everyone ski and get sunburned. I used to make cupcakes for the snack bar.”
The Richards picnicked in Greenhorn Gulch before hiking and biking trails were built there. Their children learned to swim at Hailey’s Hiawatha Hotel, Easley Hot Springs and Deer Creek.
And Art coached baseball, while Theresa fixed batches of spaghetti and meatloaf, vegetables from the huge family garden and cake, pies, cookies and ice cream—often with raspberries, strawberries apples plucked from bushes and trees outside their door.
Even with eight kids Theresa managed to volunteer for 50 years with Chapter AM of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a philanthropic organization that helped support women in college. She also served as a PTA officer, a member of Blaine Manor Auxiliary and Sunday School teacher at St. Charles Catholic Church.
Today Theresa still lives in the tidy house across from Hailey’s Grange Hall that she and Art built in 1963 using plans cut out of a magazine. The home, which sits under three towering Ponderosa pines that Teresa planted as seedlings, boasts a china cabinet once that was her mother’s, afghans draped on nearly every chair and an ironing board that’s Theresa still uses in this day of wash and wear.
Her eight children, all of whom went to college, are now scattered around Idaho, Washington, Utah and Minnesota. They have 17 grandchildren among them.
Theresa keeps on eye on the world from the overstuffed chair next to the front window as she recovers her strength from chemotherapy treatments.
“A nurse told me: Think of this as a journey you’re on. And it has been. I still meet my friends for lunch at Shelly’s Deli, Fresshies or Rasberrys—there was just one restaurant in Hailey when we moved here! And I’ve become closer to my family than ever this past year.”