Cover photo for Paul Nicholas Mcelrea's Obituary
Paul Nicholas Mcelrea Profile Photo
1969 Paul 2021

Paul Nicholas Mcelrea

February 4, 1969 — July 7, 2021

Paul Nicholas McElrea was born on February 4, 1969 in Christchurch, New Zealand.   He was the eldest of three sons of Richard and Rosemary McElrea.  Tragically he was found deceased on July 7, 2021, at age 52, near his home in Ridgway, Colorado as the result of a motorcycle accident.

As a youth, Paul’s family spent winter holidays in Queenstown, New Zealand where he learned to ski from a young age at nearby Coronet Peak.  His passion for the sport was enhanced as a member of Craigieburn Valley Ski Club.   He also enjoyed surfing at the local beaches with his high school friends and took up windsurfing at the estuary and harbor near Christchurch. He spent many summer weeks with good friends at Lake Aviemore, New Zealand.

At age 19 Paul set off for foreign shores. Over the following two decades, Paul spent numerous back-to-back ski seasons traveling from Southern to Northern Hemispheres working in the ski industry and as a professional Ski Patroller at Mt. Hutt (New Zealand), Courchevel (France), Loveland, Keystone, Copper Mountain and Telluride (United States).

In the Winter of 2004/2005, while patrolling at Copper Mountain Ski Resort in Colorado, Paul met Raleigh Coburn who was working at the Copper Mountain Medical Center.  Paul and Raleigh’s shared passion for skiing, adventure and travel brought them together.  They married on September 15, 2006, exchanging vows in Yankee Boy Basin, during a snow storm, in the mountains high above their home in Ouray, Colorado.  Paul and Raleigh have two amazing children, born at home in Ouray; James, now aged 12 and Scarlett, now aged 9.

They built their dream home, surrounded by mountains, near dear friends and family, in Ridgway, Colorado in 2019. Paul’s sense of design and his great attention to details are reflected in every aspect of their home.

Paul and Raleigh created a life that revolved around family, entertaining and spending time with friends, projects big and small and their shared passion for skiing, adventure and recreation.  Family skiing was a central part of their lives.  Paul taught both James and Scarlett how to ski at Copper Mountain; James starting at age 18 months and Scarlett starting at age 20 months.

Paul transitioned from seasonal work in the ski and building industries to full time work in local construction that ranged from carpentry to home renovations and remodels to his most recent career as an electrician.

He was accomplished and skilled at whatever job, task, hobby or sport to which he set his mind and yet very humble.  His recent passions included working on his KTM dirt bikes and a vintage Moto Guzzi motorcycle that he completely rebuilt.  He loved to ride with friends on the spectacular roads and trails in the mountains and deserts near his home.

Paul loved the life he created in Colorado with his family and often commented how lucky he felt.  Although he made his home in the mountains, Paul still loved the water and would surf at any opportunity.  He shared that enthusiasm with James and Scarlett on his most recent family trip to a favorite spot in Costa Rica.

He was a kind, generous and thoughtful husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend.  He was capable, organized, detail oriented, particular, playful, honest, a mentor, a true friend and the consummate host.

Paul will be deeply missed by his wife, Raleigh Coburn; son, James; and daughter, Scarlett.

His parents, Richard and Rosemary (Christchurch, New Zealand); brothers, Edward (Wellington, New Zealand) and Jeremy (Darien, Connecticut) and sisters-in-law Petra and Lauren deeply grieve the loss of their dearly loved Paul.

Paul was a much loved son-in-law of Linda Coburn Kornitzer and her husband Bill Kornitzer (Kansas City, MO); brother-in-law of Jared Coburn and Agnieszka Przeszlowska (Ridgway, CO).

He was a very special uncle of Cameron, Cara, Alana (Darien), Aiden, Alexander, Max (Wellington), and Julia and Michael (Ridgway).

In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Paul may be made to the George Gardner Scholarship Fund to support Ouray County youth ( or to the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team (

A Memorial Service, open to the community, will be held this Sunday, July 18, 2021 at 4:30 PM at Top of the Pines, 1035 Highland Dr, Ridgway, CO 81432.  Please carpool and bring your own blanket or chair.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Paul Nicholas Mcelrea, please visit our flower store.


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