Obituary: Johnny Younger
July 9, 1926 – June 28, 2018
John Francis Younger, a longtime resident of Summit County and a former member of the Dillon Town Council, passed away quietly in his sleep during the early morning hours of June 28th, just 12 days short of his 92nd birthday.
Johnny was born in Farmerville, LA. Although his parents were residents of Berkeley, CA at the time, his mother chose to travel to Farmerville in the last trimester of her pregnancy so that her rural physician father would attend the birth of her first child. John’s parents were Dr. John Elliott Younger, PhD, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California and an international expert in the field of aeronautical engineering, and Nancy Brunette Younger, née Francis, who was a full time homemaker. They were married in 1919.
Johnny spent the first 12 years of his life growing up in the Berkeley Hills where the family had a commanding view of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate. With a telescope mounted on their balcony, the family could observe the daily construction advancements for the building of the Bay and Golden Gate bridges.
In 1936 Dr. Younger was dispatched on a 4-month round-the-world ocean-going goodwill tour for the exchange of information and ideas with other internationally ranking aeronautical experts. With the whole family allowed to tag along for the trip of a lifetime, they crossed the Atlantic, visited many European cities, passed through the Suez Canal to cross the Indian Ocean, visited India, Borneo, and Hong Kong, crossed the Pacific by way of Honolulu, and returned home to California through the Golden Gate.
When Dr. Younger accepted the Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland in 1938, Johnny then spent the latter portion of his childhood growing up in Bethesda. Upon graduation from high school in 1944, he enlisted into the Army Air Force and until the end of WWII was a B-29 mechanic and ground school instructor in Roswell, NM.
After the war ended, Johnny had short stints at the University of Maryland and West Texas State studying engineering and earned the nickname “Chigger” playing college basketball. During the winters, he would move to Sun Valley, ID where he worked for the Ski Patrol. In 1948 he finally moved to Colorado to attend the University of Denver and in 1952 received two degrees, one in Business Administration and the other in Architecture and City Planning. In the summers he partially worked his way through DU playing semi-pro baseball with the Colorado All-Stars and in the winters worked weekends at Arapahoe Basin for the Ski Patrol and later as a ski instructor.
It was in Denver where he met Marilyn Joan Stone (later nicknamed “Stoney”), whose family ran the boarding house where he lived. One day she asked him for a ride to Arapahoe Basin to ski. They soon began dating and were married in 1955.
In 1956, he became a member of the Denver-Metropolitan Street Commission which established the unification of street names and address numbers across the Denver metropolitan area. During this same time period, he also worked as a building inspector for the City and County of Denver.
Their son John Stone was born in 1957 in Denver’s St. Joseph Hospital. The family moved to “old” Dillon in 1958 where Johnny and Stoney soon purchased a home, originally built in 1888, for $800.00. Their daughter Lorna Kay was born in 1960 in Kremmling’s Middle Park Hospital, the closest local medical facility in those days. The family home was among the structures relocated to the New Town in 1962 onto a half-acre lot which was purchased for $2,000.
The home remains located on Tenderfoot Street where the children were raised along with three Saint Bernard dogs, four Siamese cats, a turtle, a variety of other mice, cats, and dogs, several having been buried in the back yard. Many fond memories were shared with family and friends throughout the years in the beloved family home. After Stoney’s untimely death in 1982, Johnny continued to live there until 2012 when he was no longer able to live independently.
For all of his 56 years as a full-time resident of Summit County from those “primitive pioneering days” to the present, Johnny always said that it was the most beautiful place to live. And in order to successfully stay, one must always be able to hold a variety of jobs. For him these included:
Engineering consultant and inspector for the construction of the Dillon Dam and the Roberts Tunnel.
Old Dillon’s Town Clerk.
Member of the Old Town Board taking part in the planning and moving of the Old Town to its present site.
New Dillon’s first building inspector (occasionally working for the county as a fill-in inspector when needed).
Executive Secretary of the Rocky Mountain Ski Instructors from 1961 to 1969.
From 1962 to 1963 when Vail Associates began developing Vail Ski Area, he was the first “Village Services Coordinator” (later to be called “Town Manager” after the town’s incorporation). As coordinator, he was the first to study and recommend incorporation for the Town of Vail, which was later seconded and confirmed by an outside consulting firm.
Assistant Ski School Director of Breckenridge Ski Area under Trygve Berge from 1963 to 1969.
Starting in 1966, he began working summers as a surveyor at Frisco’s Peak One Land Surveying Company, the first engineering company to be located in Summit County since the mining era.
Ski instructor at Keystone from 1970-1972.
He formed the corporation Younger and Associates in 1972 to develop the Lodge at Lake Dillon.
After retirement, he was President of the Summit County Senior Citizen’s in the 1990’s. He toured the US to research best Senior Center building designs for the construction of the current Summit County Community and Senior Center in Frisco. He often volunteered with his good friend Polly to wash dishes there each day.
He also busied himself by working for the Summit Stage delivering people to Denver’s airport, Vail and beyond, and plowing snow for neighbors with his 1945 Willy’s Jeep.
In 2001, at the age of 75, due to the resignation of a sitting member, he returned to the Dillon Town Council as an appointee and was twice re-elected in his own right in 2002 and 2006, and served until 2010.
He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Nancy, and wife Marilyn. He is survived by son John, daughter Lorna, grandchildren Elliott (wife Rizalyn), Floreana (fiancé Theo), Magdeline, Eli, Andrew, and great-granddaughter Jade.
He was interred with his wife Marilyn at Fort Logan National Cemetery.
An informal Celebration of Life will be held at the Summit County Community and Senior Center in Frisco on Sun, Sep 2, from 2pm to 4pm, Labor Day weekend. Acquaintance, friend, and foe are all invited and welcome to share stories. (Stoney stories are encouraged as well!)
Elements of this obituary have been sourced from Johnny’s mother’s unpublished autobiography, Summit Daily News, Dec. 6, 2001 and The Ten Mile Times, July 27, 1994.
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