Ruth Humphreys Brown: 1921 - 2010

By Real Aspen
Real AspenJanuary 6, 2011
A legend in Aspen and U.S. military history passed away a week ago at the age of 90.
Ruth Humphreys Brown

In the summer of 2009, Ruth Humphreys Brown, the namesake of Ruthie's Run and chairlift on Aspen Mountain, received the congressional gold medal for her service with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) — the first women to fly U.S. military aircraft in World War II.

Brown was one of only 1,074 women who qualified as a WASP. The program was born in 1942 to free up male pilots to do battle overseas. After 16 months, the program was shut down at the end of 1944 with zero recognition from the government. After the war ended, the women went back to their daily lives without receiving any of the support given to men in the military. And for decades, the lady pilots were left out of the history books. That is until President Barack Obama awarded them the congressional gold medal last year. Brown and fellow Aspen resident Elizabeth “Betty” Pfister were among the few who were still alive to see it.

In 1947, Brown married D.R.C. Brown, who would become the president and general manager of the Aspen Ski Corp. and help bring Aspen to the forefront of the international ski scene. Ruth Brown became an icon in the Roaring Fork Valley, known as a pioneer and generous philanthropist.

This is her obituary:

Ruth Humphreys Brown, 90, died Dec. 30, 2010.

She was born Nov 11, 1921 to A.E. and Ruth Boettcher Humphreys of Denver.

Ruth grew up in Denver where she attended Kent School and later Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut and Finch College in New York City.

In 1943, she was accepted into the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots program and received, along with the other WASPs, the Congressional Gold Medal for service during World War II. After the war, she returned to Aspen, where she had a small shop and lived until her marriage to DRC Brown, a founder and president of the Aspen Ski Corporation.

They lived on the ranch in Carbondale, Colo. for more than 30 years, during which time she helped start the Tri County Medical Center, the Brown Ice Palace, the Aspen Recovery Unit, the Bold Ski program for bind skiers, and the first Outward Bound Program in the U.S. In appreciation of her efforts to find and help fund an alternative way down the mountain, Ruthie’s Run on Aspen Mountain was named after her.

In 1959, Ruth established the Ruth H Brown Foundation which has given grants to many non-profit organizations in Colorado and the US. Ruth served on numerous boards in Colorado, was a life time trustee of the Colorado Outward Bound School and was a participant on the first women’s adult course. She was honored at several dinners for her contributions to that organization. Ruth also was inducted into the Aspen Hall of Fame.

Ruth’s maternal grandfather was Charles Boettcher who, between 1900 and 1905. helped organize the Great Western Sugar Company, the Ideal Cement Company, Western Packing Company, Capitol Life Insurance Company and several real estate and investment firms.

He and his son, Claude, established the Boettcher Foundation in 1937, and family members, including Ruth Humphreys, have continued to support its many philanthropic interests.

Ruth’s paternal grandfather and father were involved in mining, oil, and manufacturing interests. Her grandfather was known as the “king of the wildcatters” and had interests throughout the US. Ruth’s father was President of the Humphreys Gold Corporation, Humphreys Investments, Humphreys Mining and Engineering, and the Humphreys Phosphate Company.

In 1922, AE Humphreys senior founded the Humphreys Foundation. In the early 1920s, Humphreys’ mining interests had taken him to Creede, Colo., where he built a summer mountain retreat that remains an important gathering place for generations of family and friends.

Ruth’s husband, her parents and her sister preceded her in death.

Survivors include five children and their spouses, Darcey Brown of Moab, Utah, Boots Brown of Hesperus, Colo., Lorni Cochran of Brattelboro, Vt, Charla Brown of Creede and Ruthie Brown, of Aspen; three stepchildren, Marti Garvey of Salida, Dave Brown of Denver and Scott Brown of Grand Junction; seven grandchildren and a sister-in-law, Ruth Perry of Carbondale.

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