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Yale 62

John Paul Van Ness

John Van NessBORN: February 7, 1940
DIED: September 6, 2019

John P. Van Ness was born in Newark, son of Paul Jacob and Helene Emelia Wuest Van Ness. He was proud to be the tenth generation of Dutch immigrants. He prepared for Yale at College High School in Upper Montclair, N.J.

At Yale John was a member of Silliman where he was on the Activities Committee and the touch football, baseball and softball teams. He played basketball on the freshman team and on our varsity team (1960 and 1961). John roomed with Clyde Edgar, Stu Ludlum and Bill Madden, all of whom predeceased him. John was an Economics Major and a Ranking Scholar.

After John graduated from New York University Law School, he relocated to Aspen, Colorado where he practiced law for over 40 years, in the field of criminal defense.

He was a world-class duplicate bridge player having won dozens of tournaments around the country, including the 1976 American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) NABC Amateur Pairs. He was an ACBL Diamond Life Master and Certified Bridge Instructor. He was the past President of both the Western Conference and District 17 of the ACBL. In addition, he wrote a popular bridge column for The Aspen Times for many years.

John was elected to and happily served on the Aspen City Counsel several times. He thoroughly enjoyed living his life in Colorado and was proud to be an Aspen Elk.

A loving husband, son, brother, uncle and friend throughout his joyful life, John most enjoyed sharing his love for the Rocky Mountains by bringing visitors to his favorite spots like the Maroon Bells, Independence Pass and the Ice Caves.

John was predeceased by his wife Kathy Sharp Van Ness in 2014. He is survived by his brothers William (Ann) of Saddle River, NJ, and Richard (Helen) of Basking Ridge, NJ, as well as nephew Will and nieces Candice and Paige.

John died in Parker, Colorado. A memorial service in celebration of his life was held on November 9, 2019, at the River Valley Ranch, Carbondale, Colorado.


– Robert G. Oliver