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Robert Nordhaus, 10th vet, New Mexico pioneer

Passing Date: 
Thursday, February 22, 2007

Robert Nordhaus, 10th vet and New Mexico pioneer

Robert Nordhaus, 97, who pioneered skiing in New Mexico’s Sandia Mountains and fought in the 10th Mountain Division, died Feb. 22, 2007 in Albuquerque.

Bob was born in Las Vegas, N.M. and grew up in Albuquerque, where his father ran the Charles Ilfeld Co., the city’s largest dry goods and grocery store. He learned to ski while attending Yale, and after graduating from the Yale Law School, became one of the founders of the Albuquerque Ski Club. He enlisted in the New Mexico National Guard in 1940, attended OCS, and was among the first members of the 10th Mountain Division. At war’s end he was a lieutenant colonel in the Division. Following the war he skied in Switzerland, returning to Albuquerque determined to bring lifts and trams to New Mexico.

In 1946, Bob reopened the old Santa Fe Ski Basin, with two rope tows. Later, with Ben Abruzzo and Buzz Bainbridge, he founded what became Sandia Ski Area, and built the Sandia Tramway.

As a lawyer, Bob specialized in representing Native American nations, and at one time or another counted about 40 tribes as clients. He won important water-rights and land-rights cases for them.

Bob skied at Sandia Peak until his 90th year, and remained active on its board of directors to 95. 

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