In Memoriam: Jim Gehres (1932-2023)

“Truly an era has ended in Colorado’s mountains.”

“Jim was a giant among men who have the mountains in his soul.”

James “Jim” Gehres, devoted and loving husband, accomplished mountaineer, tax professional, and climbing mentor to many, died peacefully in his sleep, November 10, 2023. Jim received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting at the University of Utah in l954. He went on to receive a Master of Business Administration, University of California-Berkeley, in 1959. Jim was encouraged to apply to law school and received his Juris Doctor, University of Denver in 1970. He received a Master of Laws in Taxation, University of Denver, 1977. He was admitted to the Bar in Colorado in 1970, admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court Colorado, United States Tax Court, Supreme Court of the United States, United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, and United States Court Claims. He was a member of the U.S. Air Force 1955-1958 Reserve. Jim was employed by the Internal Revenue Service, Denver, in 1965. In 1980, he was assigned to Chief Counsel’s office, the assignment was challenging and Jim enjoyed working in Chief Counsel’s office until his retirement on July 31, 2002.

He was inducted to the Explorers Club on May 15, 1990. A brick in his honor resides in a prominent location at the Explorers National Headquarters with the inscription “Member Emeritus.” He served as Treasurer and Director of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Member in the Highpointer’s Club, Treasurer, Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Explorers Club for many years, member of the American Alpine Club, and former President as well as a member of the Finance Committee, Colorado Mountain Club Foundation (CFI), and member of the Colorado Mountain Club. He received the CMC Ellingwood Award in recognition of his climbing achievements. He was a mentor to many who sought his expertise in their endeavor to climb all 54 Colorado 14’ers.

Giving back was the theme of the Jim Gehres 14ers Fundraising Event held on October 10, 2003, “54 Fourteeners Times Twelve” which raised over $29,000 for the CMC Foundation (CFI). During the event he was given the honorary title of “Mr. Fourteener.” He was a founding director of CFI to help protect the high country and the challenges and beauty of Colorado Mountains. Jim worked with the Griffth Centers for Children in sponsoring climbing events to the top of Colorado 14’ers to help support abused children. During the 2000’s, at the Governor’s Mansion 40 women recognized his assistance to get them to the top of all 54 l4’ers. Prior to his passing he worked with CFI to restore legal access to Mount Lincoln and Mount Democrat. The access to these popular fourteeners was important to Jim. To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy …explorers choose to do these things, “not because they’re easy, but because they are hard because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills…” Along with his ascents of all 54 14er’s twelve times, he summited the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa and Mount Blanc in the Alps, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mount Elbrus in Russia and Mount Aconcagua in South America. He summited all 49 highpoints in the United States and summited all Colorado 13’ers (save for two) which he and Margie, attempted but weather proved to be too much to overcome.

Jim was previously married to Eleanor Agnew Mount, on July 23, 1960. Eleanor passed away in 2000. Eleanor was the Director, Western History and Geneology Department of the Denver Public Library. Jim leaves behind his wife, Margie Valdez. They married October 21, 2004, at the Grant- Humphreys Mansion. His step-children Dana Sleeger, Donally Bohling, and three step-grandchildren, Isaiah, James and Laura Sleeger, along with Dana’s husband Steven were Jim’s “family”. Gatherings and celebrations were events which Jim enjoyed. He and Margie adopted four rescue dogs from the Denver Dumb Friends. Their furry friends were a true source of enjoyment for them and part of their family.

“Jim’s warm and engaging demeanor endeared him to those in the climbing community and countless others outside that community. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”

A Celebration of Life is planned for April 2024 at the base of Pike’s Peak, which was Jim’s first climb to a Colorado summit in 1960. Arrangements will be announced prior to the Celebration of Life. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Denver Foundation for the benefit of the CMC Gehres 14’er Fund, the Denver Dumb Friends, the Highpointer’s Foundation or a charity of your choice.