AVON — The Nottingham name has been associated with the Vail Valley for more than a century. Keepers of the ranch that filled the valley in the area now known as Avon, the Nottinghams have a long legacy of contributing to their community, even as decades of change have remade and redefined Eagle County.
This week, Mauri and Nancy Nottingham were given the Vail Valley Foundation’s Volunteer of the Year award. The couple received the award at a ceremony at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater during the Vail International Dance Festival Tuesday.
“They’ve seen this valley evolve from ranchland into a destination resort, into a flourishing community with so much to offer. So much of what we have today comes to us through the spirit of volunteerism from people like Mauri and Nancy,” said Jen Mason, who leads volunteer efforts for the Vail Valley Foundation. “They have always been there to give their time and energy toward our valley, and they do it in a way that makes all of us feel welcome. We are so proud to be recognizing them in this way.”
Mauri Nottingham was born in Avon on the Nottingham Ranch in 1930. Nancy and Mauri met at University of Colorado Boulder and were married in 1956. In 1968, they became well known in Vail as owners of the Talisman Lodge, near the International Bridge, where One Willow Place is located now.
Mauri was very active as a gatekeeper and FIS-certified starter for Nor-Am and World Cup ski races. By the 1989 World Championships, he was lead gatekeeper for the event. In an era before personal computers, Mauri built, developed and coded a computerized inventory system for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Ski Swap — the first of its kind — and later developed a bar-code and tagging system that was well ahead of its time. These were only some of the innovative contributions he made to the community in Vail.
In the early ’90s, Mauri founded We Recycle, the valley’s original recycling program. He has volunteered for the Eagle Valley Community Fund Rummage Sale since the early ’80s, and he volunteered each year for the Eagle River Cleanup and annual highway cleanup.
Mauri hates to see useable items go to the landfill, which is why he says, “recycling or reusing have always been important to me. It just is.”
That’s why his work with the We Recycle program is something he is proud of, and why he still volunteers at the Rummage Sale.
LOYAL AND ONGOING VOLUNTEER
Nancy has been an unfaltering volunteer across a wide spectrum of activities, but she has a special fondness for her work with the Eagle Valley Community Fund Rummage Sale, which used to be known as the Vail Sale when the idea was first hatched in 1964.
“As I recall, the origins of the sale were because Vail families needed a public elementary school, and the Vail Clinic had just built an extra space upstairs from the ambulance garage on West Meadow Drive,” Nancy recalled.
Eagle County Schools could supply teachers for the needed school, but had no capital to give the families to finish the school space. The Vail Clinic Board then issued a loan of capital funds to finish the two-room space as the Vail Elementary School, and the original Eagle Valley Community Fund was meant to help pay back the loan.
Once the first debt was repaid, Nancy and other people involved — Vi Brown, Merv Lapin and Gail Strauch — decided to continue the work of the Eagle Valley Community Fund, and Nancy was elected vice president, a position she held until 2015, when she became co-chair following Brown’s retirement.
Nancy continues to volunteer more than 1,000 hours per year to the Rummage Sale effort, which is held each year on the third and fourth weekend in August in Maloit Park, south of Minturn. The event raises more than $180,000 each year for the fund, which is then distributed to local nonprofits, schools, teams and other charitable organizations.
Nancy’s volunteerism spans far beyond the Rummage Sale. In 1972, Nancy brought 4-H Club to the upper valley and served as a 4-H Club leader for 14 years.
She also served on Eagle County Schools’ first District Accountability Committee, helped found Battle Mountain High School’s first PTA in 1984 and was an active member of Caring For Kids, a valley-wide childcare consortium, in the early 2000s.
In the ’80s, Nancy was involved in an Eagle County Needs Assessment Survey that identified that valley workers needed infant care and child care near where parents worked. This inspired Nancy to convince Vail Associates to open Prater Lane Play School in 1989; it was the first ski area in Colorado to open an employee-only child care center and the 12th business in the state to do so.
She volunteered for Buddy Werner, Ski Club Vail and, later, Nor-Am and World Cup ski races as gatekeeper and a FIS-certified timer for the 1989 and 1999 World Alpine Ski Championships. She still volunteers for the Audi Birds of Prey World Cup ski races at the registration desk.
She has also volunteered for Vail Symposium, was on the early Vail Chapel Board of Directors, was a Sunday school teacher and has volunteered for Eagle River Cleanup and annual highway cleanup.
To this day, she continues to volunteer as an usher for Bravo! Vail, the Vail International Dance Festival and the Vilar Performing Arts Center.