March 8, 1935-Dec. 16, 2017
After enjoying another fine theater performance at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, Beverly Brown Warburton, 82, of Pagosa Springs, Colo., left on her final trail ride during the early morning hours of Dec. 16, 2017. Throughout her life, Bev was always passionate about life and truly lived “life to its fullest.” She was a determined woman with a life motto of “why not?” Although she was small in stature, she was big at heart and loved her family, community and horse.
As a spirited youngster, she grew up in Mount Pleasant, Mich., where her parents, younger brother, many relatives and family friends nurtured her outdoor spirit, spending time skiing, ice skating, hunting, fishing, canoeing and enjoying the summers on the lakes and rivers. In the 1940s, she learned about horses at Cheley Colorado Camps in Estes Park, Colo. As a camper and a counselor, she learned to ride “western style” and handle horses. She also spent many hours hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. In later years, she’d exclaim, “We are off to see the wizard!” as she took her two children on countless hikes, backpacking trips and Nordic skiing adventures in this same area. Her love for travel and learning about other cultures was sparked during a student exchange trip to Switzerland as a junior in high school.
As a young woman, she attended a preparatory school, Cranbrook Schools (formerly Kingswood School) in Bloomfield, Mich., and then attended Stanford University, in California. Attending Stanford was a major turning point in her life, not only shaping her career, but also laying the foundation for community work and a life-long love of learning. Her friends remember her “cheerful outlook,” “bouncing blonde curls” and “smart blue eyes.” At Stanford, she started out majoring in geology, one of the few women at the time. However, by the time she finished in 1957, she switched career paths and received a degree in economics. This was in part because she was told that “women weren’t allowed to be field geologists,” something that she remembered all her life and made her even more determined to see changed in the future. Eventually, she became a certified public accountant, through Metro State University in Denver.
At Stanford, she met her first husband, Lawson Warburton. Married in 1957 and recently graduated from school, they spent their early life with the U.S. Army in Missouri. Eventually, Lawson’s military career ended and they moved to Boulder, Colo., in 1960. Not wanting to leave science behind, Bev worked at the University of Colorado with a professor, Gilbert White, an environmental geographer. He was instrumental in her future by introducing her to the role of watersheds and community development. In subsequent years, Bev was very active in developing the current “green space” in Boulder County, developing policy for flood control in the area, and reducing fire risks in and around U.S. Forest Service lands and working with the League of Women Voters.
By 1962, Bev and Lawson bought land in Gold Hill, a small community west of Boulder, Colo. One of the fun things about Bev was her love of architecture and design, especially designs of Native Americans. She never liked anything “boxy” and believed in the concept of round and connecting spaces. And in 1963, she got her wish to have a custom house, designed by architect Charles Haertling, to be both round and connected to the outside and to resemble a yucca plant. For over 15 years, they lived in Gold Hill, raising two children, horses and St. Bernard dogs. Bev’s zest to make every day count continued with most weekends filled with activities in the outdoors — cutting wood, building fences, backcountry skiing, horse packing trips, fly fishing — anything that was outside. Her love for world travel continued and she traveled to China, Europe, Mexico and Central America, oftentimes with the two children in tow. During this time, Bev was an alumni member of the School in International Living, and she shared her house with numerous exchange students attending the University of Colorado.
In the ‘80s, life took another turn and the family headed over the Continental Divide to Summit County, residing in Frisco, Colo. Bev started a CPA business and again, became involved in her local community, volunteering for the Forest Service, Search and Rescue, the Bristlecone Hospice, as well as other groups. Being next to world-class skiing also started another pursuit, telemark skiing. At the age of 47, she took her first telemark skiing lesson and then she eventually taught her daughter.
In 1985, Lawson Warburton unexpectedly passed away. Bev stayed in Summit County and in 1991 married Ed Haynes, a retired petroleum geologist. Together, they lived in Silverthorne, Colo., for another 10 years and eventually moved to Pagosa Springs, Colo., in 2000. Similar to Gold Hill, Bev and Ed designed a beautiful round adobe-style house that would suit them for the rest of their lives. Never one to sit still, Bev continued her CPA practice and, just like before, dove straight into working with the community. With an old truck and horse trailer, she never missed an opportunity to join friends on community service projects. She and her kindred spirit horse, Princess, spent numerous days in the Weminuche Wilderness monitoring trails and assisting visitors as a San Juan Mountain Association Ghost Rider. Bev was a huge part of the San Juan Back Country Horsemen (SJBCH), Four Corners Back Country Horsemen, and the Back Country Horsemen of Colorado. Bev was a SJBCH past president and state director. Known to her colleagues as the “energizer bunny,” she was recognized for nearly 500 cumulative hours of volunteering, including organizing numerous projects to benefit public lands. When she turned 80, she passed her “chain saw” training needed for working trails with the U.S. Forest Service. She was a founding member and regular contributor to the Southwest Colorado Trails Roundtable, a collaborative effort between volunteer groups and land managers. She also served on numerous not-for-profit boards of directors, including her own subdivision organization. In fact, there probably isn’t an organization in Pagosa Springs that didn’t know Bev.
Although Bev was tethered to oxygen for over 13 years and suffered from a respiratory illness, this did not constrain her energetic spirit or hinder her participation in the things that were most important to her. Bev was a loving, engaged and generous grandmother to her four grandchildren and never missed a chance to travel to Alaska, Australia, Arizona, Hawaii or any place where she could meet up with them for a trip that always included birding, camping, hiking, swimming, cooking and fun evenings around a campfire. Bev was a true adventurer and a determined woman who traveled around the world and undoubtedly passed that trait on to her children and grandchildren. One of the many memories and amazing personal feats that Bev accomplished was riding two sections of the Colorado Trail, mostly above 10,000 feet in elevation, and with her horse, Princess, and a pack horse to carry her oxygen equipment. In October of 2017, she completed her final, epic road trip to California with her daughter to attend her 60th Stanford class reunion and was surrounded by never-lost friends who shared her passion for living without constraints. Her daughter was privileged to bear witness that a “full life” is one of both learning and giving. Just before Bev’s passing, she was making plans to lead a group for the local Christmas Bird Count and to start volunteering for another organization because she no longer could do the trail rides or wield a chain saw.
The happiness and health of Bev’s family are her enduring legacy. As one of Bev’s friends appropriately said, “She is not gone, she’s just waiting for us at the trailhead.” Bev left behind her husband, Ed, and her two children: Janet and Doug Warburton; brother Bill Brown; four grandchildren: Landon and Kalena, Victoria and Gabrielle; a vast network of extended family and friends; and her beloved horse, Princess. On June 9, 2018, we will celebrate the rich life of Bev in Pagosa Springs, Colo.
In the spirit of a life of volunteering, the family of Bev encourages everyone to contribute to their charity of choice.
March 8, 1935-Dec. 16, 2017