Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Corby Dibble

Corby Dibble died Thursday, Jan. 11, at home with her son, Chris, by her side.

Born Roberta Muriel Corby on Sept. 25, 1928, in Jamaica, N.Y., she graduated with a B.S. in Political Science from Northwestern University in 1949. While attending a post-graduate summer session at the University of Colorado, she met Phil Puchner and moved to Sun Valley. They were married in 1951. Their son, Chris, was born in 1953.

Corby worked at a variety of jobs in Sun Valley, which was owned by the Union Pacific Railroad at the time. She worked cashiering at the Roundhouse on Baldy and at the Ram Bar in the Inn, among others. She entertained valley kids every Sunday, reading the comics on KSKI radio. When not gainfully employed, Corby with one child and Joanie Paterson with five (their husbands were partners in the surveying business) were daily skiers, arousing the curiosity of the town mothers who questioned: "Who's taking care of the kids?"

Corby's lifelong love of horses was fulfilled in Sun Valley where she was a fixture at the stables. In those early days, she caught the community's eye, according to Betty Bell, because her British-tailored jodhpurs and knee-high boots were strikingly different from the traditional Western garb of jeans and cowboy boots.

An insatiable reader, Corby was one of the 17 founding members of The Community Library board in 1955. That involvement was put on hold in 1960 when the Puchners went to Nepal for one year when Phil pursued various engineering opportunities. Asia summoned again in 1963, this time Thailand and Bangladesh. Corby returned to Sun Valley in 1966. The Puchners were divorced shortly afterward.

In 1968, Corby married Oliver Dibble III. They built a home on Bitterroot Road and became involved in the political world of Sun Valley. Oliver was employed by the city; Corby became the executive director of the Sun Valley Ski Club and Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. She was appointed to the city's planning and zoning commission in 1980. "Corby Dibble served as a member of P&Z throughout my tenure as mayor of Sun Valley during the '80s and '90s," said Ruth Lieder. "She was chairman of the commission for many years. Throughout her service, she was firm but polite, soft-spoken, well-prepared and always fair." If not at city hall for a meeting, you could find her in her office on the second floor of the Aspen Willow Building on the Sun Valley Mall or in the race shack on Baldy. Her trips to-'n-fro and her lackadaisical view of parking rules, recalls Julie Hazard, prompted Oliver to observe one day: "Corby never parks her car; she just abandons it!"

An equestrian since childhood, Corby grew more interested and proficient in the art of dressage, turning her cutting champion Music River into her first dressage horse. Many dressage horses were to follow; Idaho Mark, who was born in her arms, went on to achieve national ranking; and Robindi provided Corby with many years of riding enjoyment. In 1995, Corby became a dressage technical delegate. In 1998, Corby, along with Kathy McClatchy, Melanie Nevins, Linda Gates, Barb Hooper, and others, moved their horses and training activities to the Hailey-based Silver Bell, then owned by Julie and Ed Lawson.

In 2002, Corby and Oliver sold the Bitterroot house, which was rebuilt after being destroyed by fire in 1987, and spent the next two years building their new house just outside of Hailey in order to be closer to her horses. Corby became even more active in dressage events, helping organize dressage shows at nearby River Grove Farm and traveling extensively as a technical delegate for other recognized competitions, traveling to many events through the Intermountain West and the Pacific Northwest. With the guidance of Perry and Peggy Thomas and Bob and Debbie McDonald, Corby and friends, Kathy McClatchy and Mel Nevins, made several trips to Hanoverian horse auctions in Germany to bring several of these spectacular horses back to the Wood River Valley. She purchased Hanoverian geldings Gino and Loch Ness, who have achieved national ranking under the tutelage of Kathy McClatchy.

She is survived by son, Chris, of Fairbanks, Alaska; stepson, Oliver Dibble IV, of Woodacre, Calif.; and stepdaughter, Alexandra Pitts, of Sacramento, Calif. In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested for Hospice of the Wood River Valley (P.O. Box 4320, Ketchum, ID 83340) and Sawtooth Pony Club (P.O. Box 2222, Hailey, ID 83333).

A memorial service will held in the Wood River Valley on Saturday, April 6, 2007.

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