Profile: Norm- US citizenship & Aspen Ski Co


Rylee Smith

Norman Archer proudly holding up an American flag.

Local Aspen resident Norman Archer is both a community man and a working enthusiast. Born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, he established his home within the Roaring Fork Valley in 2017. Norman has lived through immeasurable experiences in different lines of work and cities. Born on Feb. 28,1940, Norman aka “Norm” is an 83-year-old legend with a heart of gold.

Norm is a vehicle, snowcat, and snowmobile mechanic, working exclusively at the vehicle maintenance shop at the base of Buttermilk Mountain. He has been with Aspen Skiing Company for nearly six years and part of the reason for his success in the mechanical industry is due to prior experiences working in South Africa. He spent twenty years of his life in the sugar mill located in Swaziland, now called Eswatini, where he crushed sugar cane and took part in maintenance, preparing the equipment for production.

“I’ve worked in a few different places and I was exposed to different aspects of engineering. In a lot of my current work, I’m picking back on stuff I’ve done elsewhere,” Norm said.

Norm also worked in the formal office setting but leaned more toward the aspects of vehicle maintenance and ‘hands-on’ tasks.

“I thought it was nice and clean but after two years I couldn’t take it anymore. I got no satisfaction from that work,” Norm said.

In the sugar mill, he explained his move from the workshop to an industrial training officer in a five-year apprenticeship and training center with hands-on modules, where he took part in teaching.
“That’s been really, I would say the most rewarding part. I’m on Facebook with some of my ex-apprentices from the sugar mill and a lot of them have moved into engineering positions. They were keen to learn and that was a bonus,” Norm said.

Nevertheless, his work in Aspen would have been unattainable, if it weren’t for factors in his life such as his family.

Norm said, “I’m the last one standing,” as he is the youngest child out of nine, who were born in Southern Africa. His wife is named Martha and they met in a place named Livingston. Norman and Martha have two daughters, the oldest named Joanne and the other Martha, as well as a son named Edward. The two girls both live in the states, in California, and Colorado, and his son in the United Kingdom.
Joanne thought it would be best for Norm and Martha to come over to The States and her push played a major role in their decision to gain formal U.S. citizenship.

“It must have been Joanne. She got the ball rolling and ran with the whole thing. We thought okay, let’s give it a go,” Norm stated about his motivation within the process.

Joanne living in Colorado made this move attainable because they had a home that was partially rented out to Martha and Norm. He explained that this was a good fit because of its affordability and access.
With the reassurance of this new home, the need for U.S. citizenship came. In 1980, Norm lived in Zembabwe and Swaziland, and soon following, Joanne began the U.S. citizenship process approximately eighteen months before Norm finally moved out. He couldn’t take the citizenship test until five years following full-time residency within the states.

“It took about seven years from the time we came over. It was 5 years from the time we got here but the build up, all the paperwork, just to get permanent residence took almost 2 years,” Norm said.

The first step, he explained, was a trip to Denver to do fingerprints and following that took around eight months before Martha and Norm were called for the formal interview. Within this time, they were given a booklet filled with history, geography, and politics to study. Both Norm and Martha spent time studying whether it be at home or during free moments they managed to find during the day.

“What I used to do every day when I got on the bus, was pull out my booklet and go through it. So I just about knew it all,” Norm said.

Within the actual test, Norm explained his experience in that he was asked ten questions out of one hundred. Alongside the interview was a writing and reading section of the test. Given success due to their studying, both Norm and Martha passed and became official citizens of the United States. Lastly, in acknowledging a ‘bigger picture’, Norm hopes to have a positive impact on his community.

“I suppose you can say I’m on my borrowed time. I would like to contribute in terms of work as long as I am able,” Norm said, “Really if you’ve got skills, you’ll never be out of work. Here I am in my eighties, still needed.”

Norm may be recognized within the mechanic shop as a dedicated worker who finds a sense of reward in helping others. In the coming future, Norm will be receiving the “Mechanic of the Year” award from the Ski Area Vehicle Maintenance Institute. This honorable recognition will capture only a small portion of the immeasurable contributions of Norman Archer within communities from South Africa to the United States and all those in between.