Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Bainbridge_BuzzJeanJean & A.G. "Buzz" Bainbridge

Honored October, 2010

Jean and A.G. "Buzz" Bainbridge

Buzz and Jean Bainbridge have been a team since they fell in love at the University of Minnesota in 1942. They married just before Buzz left to serve in WWII, and have shared life’s adventures since his return. From promoting, managing, and teaching skiing in Santa Fe and the Rockies, to building handcrafted adobe homes, the Bainbridges have given much to their adopted city and state.

A.G. “Buzz” Bainbridge was born in Minneapolis. His father managed the Shubert Theatre and the Shrine Circus; his mother was an actress. Young Buzz lived in a world of actors and acrobats, horses, and elephants. He learned to ski as a teenager and was captain of his university ski team.

Jean was born into a Norwegian Lutheran family. She always enjoyed being outdoors, especially on Minnesota lakes in the summer. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota.

The Bainbridges came to Santa Fe in 1946 to develop the budding ski industry. Buzz became the manager at what is now the Santa Fe Ski Basin while Jean directed the ski school. They ran summer camps for kids, teaching them ethics, manners, and a competitive spirit.

Buzz and Jean went on to manage ski areas in Colorado and Wyoming, helping to build a regional industry in the West. They promoted “Ski the Rockies”—a successful campaign to reverse the trend of US skiers going to Europe. Their contributions were recognized in 2004 when they were inducted into the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame.

In 1976, Buzz began designing and building the adobe homes that would become another milestone in his career. Bainbridge homes are distinguished by fine Southwest craftsmanship and energy efficiency. Jean and their daughter Andrea helped design the homes. Jean, a respected realtor, sold them.

Buzz directed the New Mexico Tourism Department in Governor Garrey Carruthers cabinet. He also served as Commodore of the New Mexico Sailing Club, and built the first docks at Heron Lake. And, in their spare time, Buzz built the playground at Carlos Gilbert School, while Jean volunteered at the Santa Fe Library book shop.

Friends say, “With integrity, a sense of ethics and community commitment, the Jean-and-Buzz team has accomplished so much! What mentors they are to all of us.” “They are givers of themselves in every way, to the Santa Fe community, the ski community, the real estate community—they are the heart of Santa Fe.” “This charming couple is the best of Santa Fe.”

Story by Barbara Harrelson

Photo © 2010 by Genevieve Russell