Norwood Firebrand Grace Herndon Dies at 85
by The Herndon Family
Nov 04, 2009 | 2467 views | 2 2 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
NORWOOD – “Amazing Grace,” we all called her. She was the one who would always write the tough words about the tough subjects. Grace Jaynes Herndon, born Aug. 4, 1924 in Milwaukee, Wisc., the daughter of Phillip and Katharine Jaynes, grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. Her early years, formed by her middle-class family, who participated in Chicago and international affairs, taught her the ins and outs of political intrigue.

During World War II, Grace was pursuing her education in Colorado College, in Colorado Springs, when she met the young midshipman who became the love of her life – her surviving husband, Alvin Steven Herndon of Norwood Co. Shortly after the war, they married, and Grace became the city girl living with the classic Southwestern Colorado ranch family. The Herndons raised cattle in the old cowboy way, and Grace learned the traditional roles of a ranch wife, which were largely kitchen and household activities.

Those housewife days must have been the time when she came to love the outdoor activities that carried her through the rest of her life. She and a handful of dedicated housewives started the first “Learn to Swim Program” in the Norwood area, and for years Grace taught the youth of the surrounding area the fine art of swimming and lifesaving. Grace and Steve caught the ski bug early on. After a few rides on the infamous Ski Dallas rope tow, they decided there was a much better way to get up a ski hill. They teamed up with two other local families and began building the homemade T-bar lift, which became the Ski Dallas ski area.

Grace, Steve, their children and lots of local skiers spent many years running the small local lift that helped bring skiing to life in San Miguel County. Grace, as always, was restless, and so she turned to journalism by writing short stories for The Readers Digest, Denver Post and local newspapers including The Daily Sentinel. As the Telluride ski area sprang to life, Grace wrote for the Telluride Times, started her own Wright’s Mesa Review, and, well, the rest is local journalism history.

Grace took on the hard issues. She was a fearless champion of liberal and environmental causes. She took on the power companies, in the face of insurmountable odds, over interstate power transmission. She challenged uranium mining, wafer-board mills, out of control land development and the logging industry. She made the term “Trophy Home” a household word. Anywhere the environment was at risk, Grace became the voice for saving the natural world. At the age of 50 she decided she was not going to get any older, and so she bought a motorcycle and a 12-ft. sailboat. The lakes and backroads were never the same after that, and the two quickly morphed into mountain bikes and river kayaks. Grace spent many of her later years plying the rivers and canyons of the Southwest and finding the great little camp spots with Steve and Hank, the dog. All these adventures brought to life more and more articles in the local papers. Grace wrote until the very end, and there is as a half-finished piece still on the old Apple.

Damn, we’ll really miss her. Grace is survived by her husband, Steve; her son, John and his wife Lory; her daughter, Kary, and a passel of environmentalist grandchildren scattered across the country watching out for the gifts of mother nature.

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Reilly Capps
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November 06, 2009
My thought and prayers to Kary and the rest of the family. Grace had such a good heart -- and a great head, too.
Jim Pettegrew
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November 04, 2009
What a joy & blessing in my life to have known Gracie. Steve, John & Lori, my heart goes out across the miles to you this evening.

May we all aspire to a fraction of the wisdom, gumption & spirit of that good woman.