Jean Bainbridge dies at 95; promoted skiing in Santa Fe and taught many to enjoy slopes
·By Robert Nott | The New Mexican
·Sep 14, 2017 Updated 7 hrs ago
Jean Bainbridge, a longtime Santa Fean who helped her husband develop Ski Santa Fe and worked for years as a ski instructor and real estate agent, died at her home in Santa Fe earlier this month. She was 95, her son Steve Bainbridge said.
She and her husband, Buzz Bainbridge, who died in 2015, were named Santa Fe Living Treasures in 2012 because of their contributions to the community.
“She was entranced with Santa Fe — the art community, the intellectual community, the Southwest atmosphere that we all love, the lights, the sunsets, the skies,” Steve Bainbridge said of his mother. “There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma who learned to ski because of Buzz and Jean.”
Jean Bainbridge was born March 10, 1922, in Minneapolis to Marie and Rudolph Anderson. She studied English literature at the University of Minnesota and met her husband there.
During World War II, Buzz Bainbridge served in the Navy. When he returned, he set off on a trip through the West to promote and discover new ski areas. Jean, who had already been separated from him during the war, said, “I am going with you. I am not going be without a husband a second time,” according to her son.
During that time, Jean Bainbridge used her writing skills to publish a newsletter, Buzzing Around the West, about the couple’s travels.
When they passed through Santa Fe in 1946, she said to her husband, “This is where we are going to live.”
The couple moved to Santa Fe in the late 1940s, and both set about promoting and working in the ski industry. Jean Bainbridge, who would later be inducted into the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame, taught skiing at several ski areas in the state, including Santa Fe, La Madera in Albuquerque, Red River and Ruidoso.
When Buzz Bainbridge took over as manager of the Santa Fe ski basin, now known as Ski Santa Fe, his wife played a key role in ensuring the venture’s success.
“My mother backed him up with an ability to write well and articulate well,” Steve Bainbridge said, “so I know she had a great deal to do with his success in promoting skiing in Santa Fe.”
Later, Buzz Bainbridge began building houses, including about 50 in the Santa Fe area, while Jean earned her real estate license and went to work selling them.
She also worked as a volunteer at the main branch of the Santa Fe Public Library, often overseeing the library’s bookstore.
The couple’s daughter, Andrea Bainbridge, said her mother, who graduated magna cum laude, was an intellect and habitual reader who, she joked, “could read standing up in a speedboat.” To her last day, Andrea Bainbridge said, her mother kept correcting her grammar.
But the ski slopes that Jean Bainbridge frequented until she was nearly 80 years old made her happiest, her children said.
When Steve Bainbridge recently asked his mother what she considered the best part of her life, she said, “Teaching skiing.”
Along with her son Steve and daughter Andrea, Jean Bainbridge is survived by her son Buzz Bainbridge and several grandchildren.
The family plans a public memorial service Nov. 25 at Quail Run in Santa Fe.
Contact Robert Nott at 505-986-3021 or firstname.lastname@example.org.