The ski instructor moved to the valley to pursue outdoor passions after retiring from being a lawyer

Stephanie, Dave, and May Turner on a ski day at Arapahoe Basin in 2022.
Stephanie Turner/ Courtesy photo

An outdoorsman, climber, skier, and mountaineer are some of the many ways family, friends, and loved ones will remember Buttermilk ski instructor Dave Turner. .

“He was a kind person who brought joy to so many people,” said his daughter Stephanie Turner.

Dave, 70, of Basalt, died Jan. 5 after a ski accident at Aspen Highlands on January 3rd.

He and his wife, Nancy, moved to Basalt from Boulder in 2021 to have their favorite outdoor activities right outside their front door, like many others in the Valley.

“(My parents) were drawn to the Roaring Fork Valley because of its beauty and accessibility,” Stephanie said.

Dave and Nancy’s hike near the Maroon Bells last summer.
Courtesy of Stephanie Turner

Dave was an avid outdoorsman, his daughter said; all his favorite things revolved outside. However, climbing and skiing are his two true passions. He shared his love of the outdoors with Nancy, Stephanie, and his sister May. As a result, most of their family’s vacations focus on the outdoors, be it hiking, biking, skiing, or climbing. Owning his legal career allowed him the flexibility to pursue his passions.

“He’s always been a big supporter of work-life balance. We usually go on like a three to four week road trip in Canada for climbing or out in the Pacific Northwest,” Stephanie said.

Prior to retirement, Dave had his own law practice focusing on wills, estate planning, and probate. After moving to Basalt, he worked as a ski instructor at Buttermilk and was heading into his second season as a PSIA Alpine Level 2 certified ski instructor.

“He was very happy there and thought (Aspen Skiing Co.) was a great company to work for,” Stephanie said. “He just wanted to share his happiness with other people.”

Buttermilk isn’t Dave’s first experience as a ski instructor. Stephanie had a friend who worked at the Loveland Ski Area as a ski instructor and decided she would join her friend as a ski instructor. According to Stephanie, her father thought it was very interesting and decided to follow suit. Although he only worked there for a season, Dave stayed for about six.

“He really enjoyed teaching people about his passion for skiing and the process of their own skiing,” he said.

Dave is a man of many passions and talents. Stephanie says that when she was growing up, her father’s true passion was climbing.

“In his younger years, he was an Outward Bound climbing instructor in North Carolina,” he said.

His passion for climbing fueled some of his volunteer work. As a member of the Financial Opportunity, Dave worked to make climbing accessible through sustainable access and preservation of the climbing environment. He was also a founding member of Flatiron Summit and help work with the city of Boulder to allow new climbing routes on the Flatirons.

Dave Turner received the Blue Gram Award from the Colorado Open Space Alliance in 2021 for his work with the Flatirons Climbing Council.
Courtesy of Stephanie Turner

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Flatiron Climbing Council, the Access Fund, or Doctors Without Borders. Stephanie said her father’s background in law helped him with the Flatiron Climbing Council, and they chose Doctors Without Borders because of something he donates to.

He described his father as “a man of great humility,” and many of his accomplishments in climbing and skiing went unnoticed because of this.

“Even our close family, we don’t really know who they are because he never dared to be the first person to do something,” he said.

Most of his accomplishments in the mountains were times shared between him and anyone he worked with, he added.

The family is touched by Dave’s kindness to his friends, even those he just met on trips to the cabins. Stephanie said one woman shared a memory of the Love page about a trip to a cabin in Canada when Dave finds someone who hasn’t skied with him and asks to ski with him the next day.

“The next day,” the memory from Mandie Majerus reads, “I had to break up with Dave, playing follow-the-leader. It’s my favorite type of skiing. I often think of that kindness in other situations … I will never forget that kindness.”

A celebration of life will be held for Dave on June 11 at the Koenig Alumni Center in Boulder.

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