Moab and Telluride, Colo., residents are grieving over the loss of Elizabeth “Bets” Patterson, a 2008 graduate of Telluride High School who died in a fall while camping near Moab early Sunday morning.
Patterson, 23, is remembered as a kind-hearted and effervescent girl who loved small children, poetry, art, cats and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. She spent much of her life living in Moab and Telluride.
According to reports from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, Patterson was camping with friends in an area that overlooks Castle Valley Saturday, June 1 when the accident occurred. Her companions reported that she had left camp to use the bathroom at 1 a.m., and was not there in the morning.
Grand County Search and Rescue responded to the call made by her friends at 6:22 a.m., and discovered her body by 8:50 a.m. Patterson had fallen nearly 200 feet from a ledge that was about 75 feet from the campsite.
Patterson is the daughter of Steve “Stiff” and Jenny Patterson and is also survived by her brother, Chas, her great aunt Mary Merchant Sturgeon and many aunts, uncles and cousins.
Friends and family say Patterson was a charming, guileless and talented young lady who had a gift with small children, loved her cat and believed in whimsy.
“She didn’t have a bad bone in her body,” said Honga Im, a family friend whose children were nannied by Patterson. “She was really sweet, always looking for the best in everyone, never had anything bad to say.”
Patterson was born in Telluride on April 3, 1990. She was named after her maternal great-grandmother, who also went by the affectionate nickname “Bets.” When she was about nine months old, her family moved to Moab, where her parents opened Eddie McStiff’s restaurant. The Pattersons are still partners in the establishment.
The family returned to Telluride, Colo., in the spring of 1998, where Patterson attended Telluride’s public schools. She graduated from Telluride High School in 2008 with honors, attended CU Boulder and returned to Telluride this winter before moving to Moab for a nannying job.
Jenny Patterson said her daughter was an artist and poet who loved the outdoors and was exceptionally good with small children. She had a bright spirit that lit up the lives of those around her, Jenny Patterson said. Bets could draw amazing caricatures of people, loved unicorns, enjoyed fishing with her father, was a mean cook, a terrific backgammon player and a graceful skier, her mom said.
“She was effervescent,” Jenny Patterson said. “She was very social. She loved people, she loved the outdoors. She was well-loved, for sure.”
Patterson was deeply fond of Telluride and the neighborhood she grew up in, and she never missed a Bluegrass Festival, where she would collect signatures from her favorite acts.
She also loved Moab and the desert, especially during the springtime.
Jenny Patterson said the outpouring of support from both the Telluride and Moab community has been unbelievable.
“We are overwhelmed by the support,” she said.
She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Elizabeth Gerard Tyson, Charles Roland Leutz, Wilma Geilfus and John Tanner Patterson and her Uncle Chip Leutz.