Keystone residents and resort founders Bill and Jane Bergman recently said goodbye to a family member who introduced them to skiing in Summit County when Jane Bergman’s sister, Barbara Rathbun, died.
Rathbun and her husband, Ron Rathbun, met at the University of Iowa and lived in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The couple first came to Summit County in 1953.
Rathburn and her husband enjoyed coming to Colorado to ski near Berthoud Pass, before discovering Arapahoe Basin.
“They were glued,” Jane Bergman said.
It wasn’t long before Barbara and Ron Rathbun started sharing their love of skiing with friends and family, forming a group with both Summit County and Iowa connections.
“Jane’s sister played a vital part in that group,” Bill Bergman said. “Her sister was responsible, basically, for Keystone because it was she and her husband that got us into skiing. They invited us out, and as a result of that we learned to ski at Arapahoe and Loveland Pass and really enjoyed it,” he said. “We were all together the night I got talked into starting Keystone.”
The group of comrades from Iowa spent a lot of time skiing and socializing together in the Keystone area, and the Rathbuns, with four other Iowa couples, became partners in the Alhambra Mine cabin on Montezuma Road.
Rathbun and her husband befriended many of the early locals and enjoyed entertaining, Jane Bergman said. Social gatherings often involved chatting with one another, playing piano and enjoying meals together.
“Barbara was a really good cook. She would bake big casseroles to feed everyone,” Jane Bergman said. “She made everyone feel welcome.”
After a few years sharing the cabin, the Rathbuns moved out on their own, building a log home, “The Lucky Day Lode,” farther east on Montezuma Road, overlooking the big rock and the Snake River.
The Rathbuns loved the outdoors and spent time hiking and fishing in the summers.
They also enjoyed the Loveland Pass Cafe — now the Snake River Saloon — and the Ski Tip Lodge.
But their first love was skiing.
“It was 100 percent skiing,” Bill Bergman said.
The “Alhambra” days were spent on the slopes of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area riding the Poma lifts and the single chair, Jane Bergman said. The women all skied and enjoyed the sport just as much as the men.
Jane Bergman recalled a day when she, her sister and another female friend ventured to Aspen, following a snowplow along the way. When they got up to a certain spot on the mountain to ski, they realized they might have bitten off more than they could chew.
“Those girls got so scared they didn’t want to come down,” Jane Bergman said. “They were a lot of fun. I’ll never forget that time.”
As the original group of Iowans got older, they moved away. Barbara Rathbun enjoyed spending time in Florida in her later years, Jane Bergman said. The Bergmans are the only ones in the original group who still live in Summit County.
“Bill and I are stubborn,” Jane said.
Besides the Bergmans, Rathbun is survived by her son, Steven, and his family in Cedar Falls, Iowa.