A retrospective curated by Jenny Meese
On display through Winter/Spring 2024
Betty Olsen Carr Reading Room
Born in 1909 in Cuyahoga, Ohio, Posey attended private schools, including a boarding school in Italy, before attending Bryn Mawr College. She married Theodore Gruener in 1933 and together they created a home with their two children, Rika and Danny, in Ketchum Idaho. Posey was a mix of complexity and kindness. Like everyone, she had her share of tribulation and sorrow, yet she left an indelible mark on her community. She loved the people of Ketchum. A new display in The Community Library aims to share part of Posey’s story with a hope that her love will be remembered.
It was said that Posey knew the names of every young person in town and was interested in each of them.
When she heard a family was having a difficult time, she’d add them to her account at the grocery store so they could get the food they needed. When a school activity didn’t have enough funding, Posey would make sure there was a donation with enough for what they needed.
Many residents confirm that she paid to have the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood built as well as awing of the Moritz Hospital. Although both have since been remade, it is undeniable that she wanted the community in Ketchum to thrive.
In the 1950s Posey and Ted built a home on a large parcel of land that spanned from Warm Springs Road up to Canyon Run, which at the time was open green space. She was originally neighbor’s with Henry J. “Bob” Topping, Jr. and eventually with Mary and Ernest Hemingway.
Mary Hemingway hoped to buy a couple of acres from Posey, to which they agreed. However, as a lawyer was drafting the agreement, Mary asked them to add an additional parcel. When Posey noticed the addition she explained that the extra land would cost a bit more. Mary protested and their disagreement eventually needed the Idaho Supreme Court to settle the matter. Since an agreement could not be made and both ladies refused to give way, the court returned Mary’s money and the land remained Posey’s. The suit was nothing scandalous but does show the grit of these two powerful women.
In December of 1949, before Sun Valley reopened, the Shah of Iran came to ski, inspired by Sun Valley Serenade, Otto Lang took him to an abandoned mining community in Boulder Basin north of Ketchum where an old cabin was fixed up, two new outhouses were built, and they skied using a snowcat. The Shah was a good skier and returned several times.
Posey and Ted owned and operated their beloved Chalet Vengreen. Many community events were held here, including a wedding at one point. They made brochures offering lodging as well as snowcat trips from the Chalet.
They may have been among the first private lodging and tour companies in Ketchum. The family hosted many guests, including the Shah of Iran when he came to ski.
The Wagon Days committee needed a place they could safely keep and restore the wagons used in the parade each year. Posey happily offered her big red barn to house and care for the wagons until the committee was able to raise the funds to build the Ore Wagon Museum, where the wagons reside today.
The Alpine Club
Posey was an owner of the Alpine Club alongside other notable Ketchum families for years before eventually becoming the sole owner.
During those last years she had matchbooks made with ‘Posey’s Alpine Place’ printed on them, but even then it was always called The Alpine.
People say that Posey had a special spot inside where you could find her most days. She would tap her cane to get people’s attention and give instructions to young couples to get out on the dance floor. In the same manner you could also get a smack from her cane for nearly anything (not saying hello, sending a late thank you card, etc.).
Posey was a character and part of a wonderful mix of people who created a place in time that we still long for and love to remember.