Jim Crown of Aspen Skiing dies

Jim Crown died Sunday on a Woody Creek race track, on his 70th birthday.

The chairman and CEO of Henry Crown, and managing partner of Aspen Skiing Co., struck an impact barrier in a single-vehicle accident at the Aspen Motorsports Park in Woody Creek, according to the Pitkin County Coroner’s Office.

“The official cause of death is pending autopsy, although multiple blunt force trauma is evident,” the Coroner’s Office said in a statement. “The manner is accident.”

Crown was chairman and chief executive officer of Henry Crown and Co., a privately owned company which invests in public and private securities, real estate and operating companies. At the time of his passing, Crown served as the lead director of General Dynamics Corp., director of JPMorgan Chase, trustee of The Aspen Institute, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Civic Committee, and the University of Chicago.

Crown was a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a former member of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board appointed by President Barack Obama.

He was born in Chicago in 1953, the son of Lester and Renée (Schine) Crown. He earned a B.A. in political science in 1976 from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He received his law degree in 1980 from Stanford Law School, where he was a distinguished member of the Stanford Law Review and the Stanford Public Interest Law Foundation.

Jim Crown, whose family owns Aspen Skiing Co., makes a presentation to rename one of the ski runs on Aspen Mountain for Bob Beattie on Friday from the base of the Aspen World Cup course.

Upon graduating from law school, Crown joined Salomon Brothers Inc, in New York City, as an associate. He became a vice president of the Capital Markets Service Group in January 1983 where he met his future wife, Paula. In April 1985 he returned to Chicago to join his family’s investment firm.

Jim Crown is survived by his parents Lester and Renée (Schine), his wife of 38 years, Paula (Hannaway), six siblings, and his children Torie, Hayley, W. Andrew, Summer Crown, his son-in-law Matt McKinney and two cherished grandchildren, Jackson and Lucas McKinney.

There will be a private service and a celebration of his life later this year, according to Crowns.

In the past few months, he presided over the opening of the renovated Buttermilk Ski Area, rebranded the company’s hospitality division, and hired chief executive officers for the hospitality division, Alinio Azevedo, and Aspen Snowmass, Geoff Buchheister, with the retirement at the end of this ski season of CEO Mike Kaplan.

Crown was an active leader of his ski company even with his other responsibilities, and had a large influence in the ski industry that Aspen Skiing Co. in many ways has been a leader in customer service, experienced staff and attention to environmental sustainability and affordable housing challenges.

Our condolences to Jim’s family and friends.