Wedding bells ringing for Sharon, Ernie
October 2, 2003
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Town Councilmember Ernie Blake plans to tie the knot next June with Sharon Magness, the Denver multimillionaire and prominent philanthropist.The two purchased the 254-acre Triple Creek Ranch north of Silverthorne for $10.45 million from Walter Johnson and Rex Sanders in August. According to the Summit County Assessor’s Office, the property has four buildings and a support building on it.Blake and Magness met last year on a blind date set up by a mutual friend involved in the National Repertory Orchestra.”He didn’t know who she was,” said Breckenridge Town Manager Tim Gagen. “She said, “I’m Sharon Magness.’ And he says, “Oh, well, I’m Ernie Blake. That’s what attracted her about him.”Blake and Magness are in Washington, D.C., this week and unavailable for comment.Until he retired for good earlier this year, Blake was a prominent attorney who often commuted to his office in Washington, D.C. He had partly retired several years ago and had moved to Breckenridge in 1997 because he enjoyed the locals and the small town experience. Blake also is a volunteer National Ski Patroller, working at Ski Cooper near Leadville.Magness is the widow of cable magnate Bob Magness, a former rancher who started the old TCI cable television business that eventually grew into the nation’s largest and most powerful cable TV operation under the direction of John Malone. TCI was bought by AT&T Broadband which was then bought by Comcast.Bob and his first wife, Betsy, had two sons, Kim and Gary. After Betsy’s death in 1985, Bob Magness met horsewoman Sharon Costello, who married him four years later. Bob died in 1996 at the age of 72.Sharon received $35 million and property when her husband died. His sons received the bulk of Magness’ estate, at the time estimated at more than $1 billion. Sharon contested the will in 1997 in a well-publicized case, saying that under Colorado law, she was entitled to more than the $35 million left to her in the couple’s prenuptial agreement.Sharon Magness is the co-founder and co-chairwoman of Western Fantasy, an event that raises funds for Volunteers of America (VOA).VOA delivers more than 30 services to more than 90,000 people in need of shelter, counseling, nourishment, companionship or a new direction in life. This year’s fete, at which coordinators hope to raise more than $1 million, is slated for Oct. 25 at the National Western Event Center in Denver.Sharon Magness also owns 20-year-old Arabian stallion, Thunder, the Denver Broncos’ mascot.She is known for her down-to-earth style.Blake is no slacker himself.He graduated from the Naval Academy with a degree in physics and nuclear engineering and received his post graduate education at one of Navy Adm. Hyman Rickover’s nuclear power schools in Vallejo, Calif. Later, he earned a law degree from Duke University.After spending three years patrolling the seas in a nuclear submarine, Blake decided to get his law degree. Blake joined the firm of Shaw-Pittman – and stayed there for 30 years.In that time, he has represented the owners of the Three-Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania, the company in charge of cleaning up nuclear contamination at Rocky Mountain Arsenal north of Denver and helped settle a case between Phillipine President Corazon Aquino and Westinghouse.Blake moved to Breckenridge in 1997 and was elected to the town council in April. He plans to run for mayor next year when Sam Mamula’s term ends. Mamula said he will announce his decision whether to run or not in January.Magness told Denver Post society page writer Penny Parker that their reception is going to be an extravagant affair.”They certainly have gotten along famously since they met,” Gagen said. “They seem to be a perfect match.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.