Thursday, July 9, 2020
She Was ‘A Lot of Fuss’-Today She’ll Be Crowned
This garden statue in Pamela Rayborn’s prized garden features a miner—a fitting tribute to the Wood River Valley.
Sunday, June 9, 2019


She was known as the Queen of the Silver Dollar for her penchant for dancing. And at 70 Pamela Rayborn is still dancing.

You may even catch her dancing across the stage today when she is crowned as part of the 2019 Blaine County Heritage Court, along with Verla Goitiandia, Connie Grabow and Judy Peterson. The event will take place at 3 p.m. today—Sunday, June 9—at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey. Open to the public, it will include entertainment and refreshments.

“I’ll be crowned as Lady Pam because the sash on which they print our names is so short. But I’ve always been known as Pamela,” said Rayborn.

Pamela and Steve Rayborn bought this home in Bellevue in 1974 and have lived in it for the past 45 years. They brought the irises from Pamela’s parents’ home in Ketchum.

Rayborn, who was nominated by the City of Bellevue, fits the court’s criteria. She’s lived in the community at least 30 years and she has given back—in her case, by teaching children how to ski at Rotarun Ski Area and Dollar Mountain and by leading a Girl Scout troop.

She was born Pamela Pace in the Sun Valley Lodge in 1949--when the top floor was a hospital. It was an incredibly snowy winter, she said, and her parents had difficulty getting from their home near Trail Creek Cabin to the hospital when it was time for their baby girl to emerge.

“Dr. Moritz was the physician then and he held me in one hand and said, ‘What a lot of fuss for this!’” said Rayborn, who weighed 7 pounds on arrival.

Rayborn’s father Denny Pace worked as a waiter and bartender at the Duchin Room at Sun Valley Resort at the time.

Steve Rayborn built this gardening shed, using wood and nails he recycled from construction projects.

“He used to walk with us down the hall with all the pictures of celebrities and tell us stories about the rich and famous and who tipped and who didn’t,” she said.

Her father built a cabin on Garnet Street with the help of his friends, utilizing logs from the nearby woods and stones from the surrounding mountains.

The family had scarcely moved into the cabin, however, when Denny decided to make the Air Force his career. He would go on to fly 50 missions over Sicily and Italy during World War II, pilot the first jet over Idaho and surrounding states and retire as Colonel.

And his daughter soon found herself in Waco, Texas; Weisbaden, Germany; Dover, Del., and at bases in South Carolina and Georgia. But her family kept their cabin, renting it out to Bill Butterfield and others. And every few years they would come home to Sun Valley on vacation.

Pamela Rayborn and her cohorts will be crowned today in matching dresses stitched by Shirley Spinelli.

“My father grew up in Burley where Grandpa Pace was sheriff. And it took him three times before he made it to Sun Valley because he either ran out of gas or his car broke down. It wasn’t so easy driving in the 1940s,” said Rayborn.

Rayborn’s father volunteered as a fighter pilot during five wars—he and test pilot Chuck Yeager, who broke the sound barrier, had the same number of hours at one time.

“While we were stationed in Germany, he brought my grandpa over—my dad had lost two brothers on D-Day so it was nice that he could do that. We had a lot of fun while there because we traveled to Austria and Holland and other countries in an old station wagon,” Rayborn recalled.

Rayborn said her father, who went on to serve as Post Commander of the Ketchum American Legion for several terms, had a bad feeling about the Vietnam War so he moved his family back to Ketchum.

Come summer the Rayborns spend most nights barbecuing outside, toasting buns in the toaster oven.

Rayborn learned to ski at 15.

“My friends—Pam Street, Robbie Bell and others—were racing nationally so I had to learn,” she said. “We would walk up Dollar Mountain and ski down. The more we skied, the better we got.”

Unfortunately for Rayborn, her father was transferred to Hill Air Force Base in Utah her senior year. Not only did she miss getting to graduate with her friends, but she missed a certain boy named Steve Rayborn whom she was dating by then.

The two got married in 1966, just as her father took the family to Spain. They have been married for 53 years.

After Steve decided college wasn’t for him, he and Pam helped Steve’s parents with a trailer court they owned on River Street in Hailey. They took over when Steve parents died. They got into real estate, buying a few rentals in Hailey’s Woodside neighborhood, and Steve worked in construction.

During summers the family headed to McCall, Featherville and Pine where Steve would cut trees with his chainsaw for logging companies.

“It was hard work,” said Rayborn. “He’d fall them, then walk along both sides to cut the limbs off. Then he’d run a measuring tape down the trees and cut them when he reached 30 feet or whatever length he wanted. Our girls—Angie and Stacie--helped his oil and water. While we lived in a trailer, they lived in a tent with the dog.”

Work aside, the Rayborns enjoyed their recreation. They rafted Idaho’s major rivers, including the Middle Fork of the Salmon and the Owyhee, before heading to the Grand Canyon where they floated the Colorado River for 18 days.

They backpacked in the Big Horn Crags north of Challis and into alpine lakes in the Sawtooth Mountains.

“We still like to hike, although only day hikes now,” she said, recounting last summer’s trips to Baker Lake and Miner Lake in the Smoky Mountains. “Eight miles a day is our limit now.”

Pamela and Steve prefer the warmth of Mexico during winter. Every winter they try to head out before the first major storm, driving through Nevada and Arizona across the border. They drove down the Gulf Coast to the Yucatan peninsula one year. And they drove through Baja another, before settling in Mazatlan, a three-day drive from the border.

“The RV park fees are reasonable and they’ve got lots of colorful birds to watch. We also dance four nights a week to ex-pat Americans who play rock and roll, blues and beach party music like Neil Diamond and Kenny Chesney on the beach. The dancing in Mexico starts at 6 so we can be home and in bed by 9:30 and still have a good night.”

Rayborn laments that there isn’t more opportunity to do the two-step she and Steve used to do.

“But the younger generation didn’t like country western music. I don’t know if they all rap but I don’t like rap. It doesn’t encourage dancing—it’s just bouncing up and down. But I think country western is coming back—I understand they’re teaching line dancing at The Mint now.”

Rayborn is thankful she and her husband still have their health to enjoy dancing and bird watching—the lazuli buntings coming through Bellevue right now are pretty impressive, she said.

“We hop on our bicycles to go to the grocery store,” she said. “We make an effort not to get in our cars.”

And she’s thankful that the Wood River Valley leaders have tried to control growth. Even Mexico is getting built up as high rises replace RV parks, she notes.

“The Wood River Valley is a gorgeous valley and I love how it opens its heart to those in trouble—everyone is quick to have a benefit,” she said. “We may spend winters in Mazatlan. But as soon as we top the summit above Timmerman Hill and look across the valley, a tear comes to my eye. This is home.”


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