Patrick Michael Fox, 83 of Battlement Mesa CO, died on December 9th, 2022 after a heart attack while shoveling snow on a powder day. He then dissolved into the great beyond. Pat’s passion and lifelong pursuit was a united world supported by free energy and healthy living.
Pat was born on 8 June 1939 to Wayne Wetmore Fox and Mary Pauline “Polly” Short in Evanston, IL. Pat had two older brothers, Jim & Jon, and two younger sisters, Jennifer & Deborah.
Pat loved sports including baseball, basketball, and skiing during his middle and high school years. Pat was so into baseball that he played on several teams at the same time. On one of the teams, Pat was the only white team member as the rest of his team were African Americans in a highly segregated Chicago.
Pat first came to Aspen with his parents and older siblings on the train in Aspen’s inaugural year of 1946. Later, in the early ‘50s, Pat helped his father Wayne and older brothers Jim and Jon build a kit house at the base of Shadow mountain. After high school, Pat attended CU Boulder, where he was a Phi Gamma Delta, and became director of CU’s intramural sports including volleyball, basketball, football, and water polo.
Pat’s father and grandfather were medical doctors so naturally, Pat was pre-med. He loved science, especially chemistry, but he also loved sports which often conflicted with his studies. Pat opted to leave CU for Aspen via the Marine Corps circa 1959.
Initially Pat worked numerous jobs in Aspen including as a garbologist (hauling trash for the US forest service), piecemeal construction, and the trail packing crew before landing his dream job of serving on the Aspen Mountain ski patrol circa 1964.
Patrick met Judith Ann Fabry, while they both were visiting Laguna Beach, CA. They married soon afterward and headed to Aspen to start a life together. Initially, they rented a tiny trailer from Ralph Jackson who slept in his shed using only a light for heat.
Pat and Judy bought (from Pat’s parents) a piece of property in Woody Creek with a tiny log cabin on it. This happened just in the nick of time as the family was growing—Jonathan Wetmore Fox (now Fox-Rubin) was born on 24 September 1966. The family enjoyed gardening, raising animals, chopping wood, and bundling up in the air-cooled VW to get to town to work and ski. The rugged and rural setting was ideal and seemed so far away from the hustle and bustle of town.
The property had some beautiful artesian springs right next to the Roaring Fork river and a rock wall foundation from a former barn. Pat carved out two lovely ponds down by the river for the artesian spring to feed into and he hired friends to build a duplex and new barn—from salvaged wood thanks to the construction of Ruedi Reservoir and repurposed dump finds. Later Pat added another small house and yurt addition to the log cabin.
As a young and ambitious ski patroller, Pat enjoyed playing practical jokes with his colleagues, good-natured rivalries, trying out new ideas (like rose-colored glasses for flat light), and developing innovative approaches to snow safety. The patrol was starting to professionalize and trainings were becoming more important for first aid, CPR, avalanche mitigation, and more. Pat and some of his colleagues thought they should also get paid more as they were the ones taking on these risks and responsibilities, so they brought in the Teamsters and decided to go on strike in 1972–73. Management wasn’t ready to concede and the strikers lost the battle to unionize and collectively bargain.
Pat then turned his unique passion towards other ideas and creative outlets including putting in a sand volleyball court. He used the barn as a shop to build and store one-of-a-kind tables, lamps, frames, tractor-seat chairs, backgammon boards, and bar tops with a variety of memorabilia and trinkets hidden beneath the layers of transparent polyester and epoxy resins. Pat especially enjoyed making bar tops. Some examples include the bars at the Woody Creek Tavern, the old Red Onion, and the Silver Dollar Saloon.
Pat was a pioneer in the barnwood world, helping shepherd it into fashion as an interior and accent material before it was popularized as a siding material. He harvested barnwood throughout the southwest (often having to put up new wood to replace the wood he harvested and install a new roof to keep the ranchers happy as part of the deal). Pat used barnwood as a base for most of his tables and bar tops and sold it to the “Starwood types.” Pat also devised a farming technique that created various shades of barnwood on his property.
The first finger-barn painting was done by Pat and some friends on a dare—from a few ski patrollers including Hillmuth, Rayburn, Marshall, Mayer, and Peltonen, and some other locals like Spence and Johnson. That finger was done with red paint and a non-anatomical design that accentuated the middle finger. It didn’t last long before some completely lawless dupers trespassed on Pat’s property and covered the red finger with white paint.
Thus, Pat asked his friend and artist, Rafe Ropek, to develop a truly artful version—an anatomical hand with a finger on a blue-sky background replete with a rainbow and a “special pyramid” that included H, C, O, & N (the periodic table symbols) that was above the middle finger. This pyramid symbolized one of Pat’s clean energy theories. It took Rafe, Pat, and their team several months to paint the real thing from Rafe’s scaled-grid drawing.
The art was completed in the spring of 1974 and started a bit of controversy in the region and within the Pitkin County government, which had a sign code at the time. Pat believed in his right to free speech and called up the ACLU, just in case. The County Commissioners (Kinsley, Edwards & Shellman) saw it as a first amendment issue and weren’t going to touch it, as they had too many other pressing issues in front of them.
That painting lasted until the late ‘70s when it was redone once, and then in the mid-’80s, it was enhanced with additional rainbows (three total) and symbolism including two pigs—a solar pig coming out of a sun background and an organic pig coming out of an eggshell background, both with sheriff badges on their chests.
By the mid-’90s, the finger painting was so faded it was tough to see and Rafe wasn’t excited to get back on the roof. Despite this, a “save the finger” campaign was held with pin, postcard, and T-shirt sales. Pat and his allies were able to revive the finger one last time before the property was sold in 2004. If you want the full story, you’ll have to wait until Pat’s book is released.
In the late ‘70s, Pat met Connie Johnston, who worked at the Woody Creek Tavern & Ski Photo before either was in vogue.
Pat incorporated his rustic resin tables and artwork into the restaurant space at “Buster & the Fox,” a seafood restaurant in the original Chart House building for a two-year stint before the building was demolished. In yet another entrepreneurial endeavor, Pat tried to bottle his artesian spring water, which was high in colloidal minerals and tasted great. Pat was the original supplier for Aspen Mineral Water, but they suffered from poor trucking and bottling logistics and didn’t last long.
In the mid-’80s, Pat collaborated with his children on a few endeavors. Such as when they partnered with Howard Vagner, who still runs Western Adventures providing snowmobile tours up above Lenado. Pat’s division was called the “Snowcat Powder Tours” on Larkspur Mtn. The whole family packed lunches and helped guide along with Keido, the dog. Another joint endeavor was cutting wine and champagne bottles with a water-bathed diamond blade into drinking glasses and engraving them for weddings and special occasions.
Pat liked to call his property the ‘Woody Creek Brain Farm and Research Center’ because he was always researching and experimenting with something.
Pat became increasingly concerned about climate change, air & water pollution, and the polar ozone holes. So, in the late ‘80s, Pat started the World Survival Foundation. The goal was to explore and foster solutions for the transition to alternative energy sources such combustion of a stoichiometric mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gas (aka Brown’s Gas). Pat traveled to meet with Yull Brown, a Bulgarian inventor, to see his oxyhydrogen generator that fueled his home, auto & generator. WSF was at the forefront of the green hydrogen revolution and purchased a demonstration race car for the American Hydrogen Association in 1991 to display and prove the performance and safety of the technology. WSF Board member Rick Demetri Wagner showcased the vehicle throughout Arizona and kept WSF alive for years.
Pat also met with Alvin Marks (the inventor of polarizing lens technology, which is now used in the solar industry) and shared his clean energy theories with Mr. Marks with the goal of rapid adoption and commercialization.
Pat explored many mines around Aspen in his youth and was fascinated by them and the silver they produced. So much so, that at the turn of the millennium, he minted some silver dollar coins. These collectible souvenir coins have an aspen leaf on the front and Roch Run on the back capturing the rich mining and skiing heritage of Aspen. Pat sold a portion of the coins but he likely gave away more than he sold.
Pat moved to Battlement Mesa, after the sale of his Woody Creek property in 2004, and he more or less abided by the HOA rules and regulations. He worked again in the ski industry as a shuttle driver + guest services concierge at Aspen Highlands where he would do “schuss runs” and launch into Steeplechase “at speed” as he was heading into his 70s. Pat also enjoyed skiing at Sunlight Mountain Resort with his “Young Senior” pass. He broke his hip and lower spine while “launching it big” in the Sunlight terrain park. After a few years of experimenting with “ozone” therapy and spending much time in his hyperbaric chamber with oxygen supplementation, he relented to the ongoing pain and underwent surgery. Pat’s goal was to fully recover so he could try and join Klaus Obermeyer in the ‘100-years-of-skiing club’ (perhaps the most exclusive endurance club on the planet). Speaking of clubs, Pat wasn’t much for them, but he did join the Eagles in the ‘70s and may still be an active member…
Pat met Dawn Marie Filip early in the new millennium and they were fast friends and partners on many adventures, including shenanigans at Grace Healthcare in Glenwood Springs. Both Pat and Dawn were staying at Grace for rehabilitation after surgeries, but they were located on opposite sides of the facility. Suffice it to say, Dawn rode her electric scooter down to Pat’s wing and busted through his double doors like the real western gunslinger from Texas that she is…
Pat continued to play golf, bike (yes he did end up with an ebike), ski, and research various nutritional supplements and forms of healing waters, including deuterium-depleted water until his death.
Pat had a few aliases and was also bestowed with a variety of nicknames over the years including Flying Fingerman, FoxEye (shared with his brother Jim), Foxy, Foxi, Pops, Billy Sol Estes, the Running Fox, the Flying Fox, Fingerman, The Fingerman, Pinecone Pat, and Parachute Pat. Let us know if we’ve missed one.
Pat is predeceased by his older brothers James and Jon and his ex-wife Judith Fabry Hutchinson. Pat is survived by his sisters Jennifer L. Harford Fox and Deborah Rogan; children Fabrianne Fox and Jonathan Fox-Rubin; and grandchild Oliver Fox-Rubin.
Pat donated his skin through the Donor Alliance to support veterans, breast cancer survivors, and burn victims.
Pat’s body was then water cremated by the team at Natural Funeral into forty gallons of liquid fertilizer, sufficient to fertilize up to 600 acres of farmland, for one year.
A Celebration of Pat’s life will be held in April of 2023.