Donald W. Ringsby – 1939-2020
SUBMITTED BY DEBBIE PALMIERI
At least 300 friends, family and colleagues gathered at the Denver Country Club on June 3 to celebrate the life of Don Ringsby, affectionately known as “Ringer” to those who knew him well.
The family hosted a ceremony, followed by an open bar and barbeque luncheon. Speakers included brother-in-law Van Johnson, son Alex Ringsby, friend Dell Van Gilder, son Gray Ringsby, friend David Decker and granddaughter Calli Ringsby. Each speaker brought a unique perspective and memories of Don, with a video photo presentation with life highlights and adventures. The presentations were greatly appreciated by the guests who remembered their own fond times with Don.
Don’s professional career ran parallel with the golden years of American business and social life. He assumed presidency of the family business Ringsby Truck Lines in 1977 and served as Chairman and CEO from 1981 until the company was sold in 1986. The Ringsby family purchased Aspen Airways in 1963 and Don was President and Chairman of the Board of Aspen Airways, Inc. from 1981 to 1990 when he sold the business. From 1981 to 2007, he served as Chairman, CEO and president of Ringsby Terminals. The street, Ringsby Court in River North Art District just south of the juncture of I-25 and I-70 is named after the Ringsby family. His dad, Bill was one of the early leaders of the efforts to bring professional basketball to Denver, and that’s how the family gained a majority ownership stake in the Denver Rockets. The Rockets were named after the slogan of the Ringsby Trucking company and the uniforms took on the orange and black colors of the Ringsby Rockets trucking service. Don was an example of an American success story, and he always dearly loved the country that made so much possible for him and his family. He was a native of Denver and enjoyed homes in Savannah and Aspen.
Don was a generous philanthropist and made significant gifts to his alma mater the University of Colorado at Boulder. He served on many boards of many business and charitable causes, including Young President’s Organization, the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the YPO, Columbus Energy Co., Colorado Uplift and the Investment Committee of the University of Colorado Foundation. He belonged to many clubs, such as the Wigwam Club near Deckers, the Big Horn Club in Montana, the Denver Country Club, Savannah Golf Club and Savannah Harbor Club.
Don was an avid golfer, skier, fly fisherman and bird hunter. He was a pilot and flew all over the country in his small plane. He had an adventurous spirit and traveled all over the world. He loved the great outdoors and enjoyed teaching and sharing his passions with his children and grandchildren.
Don was appointed honorary Consul General of Thailand in 1980 and held the post until his death on May 15, 2020. He held numerous officer positions over the years and hosted many functions and parties for Denver’s diplomatic community. Don was a brilliant businessman, astute thinker, paid great attention to detail and budget and was always on the mark, always on time and always a fun person to work with.
Until the end, Don was always devoted to his beautiful wife Karen. You never saw Don without Karen. Always together, always devoted to each other. Devoted likewise to his children and grandchildren, the consummate family man.
One of the most memorable events that Don hosted was the big bash held at their home to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Completely packed with people in his back yard, it was Mexican themed with a lively Mariachi Band and Mexican food. Don and Karen danced to the famous song, and their favorite, “Besame,” “Kiss Me in Spanish. They were one of the most devoted couples ever.
Don was born June 3, 1939 and attended South Denver High School. He received his undergraduate degree at CU Boulder when he met beloved Karen.
Don will be remembered for his good energy, his business and civic brilliance, his devotion to Karen and family, his firm belief in America and the American way, and his hard work and can-do ethic. He is an exemplary role model for how to live a good life. He will be greatly missed and remembered for his mark on American life.
In remembrance of Don, donations can be made to Colorado Uplift or the University of Colorado.