It is befitting the announcement of George’s upcoming induction coincides with Vail’s 50th year celebration as it is not an exaggeration to say that there would be no Vail today without the efforts of this modest man who, as one of the original eight founding board members, led the charge to raise the money that brought the dream to reality.
While others brought the vision of a European-style ski resort and town, it was George who brought the business acumen to turn Pete’s dream into reality. George first met Pete Seibert while the two were in Aspen in the 1950s. It wasn’t long before George was intrigued by Pete’s dream and signed on to help. Forming the Caulkins Securities Corporation in 1960, George used his business acumen and tenacity to raise the required $1 million ($8 million in today’s dollars) to get the resort started.
An accomplished entrepreneur, having succeeded in the oil and citrus business, George crisscrossed the country with Pete Seibert in tow to call upon George’s extensive personal contacts. Together, they offered 100 limited partnership interests in increments of $10,000 and were careful to select individuals who would not just invest in the ski company, but were also committed to the community by building houses and supporting the town and resort. They met in living rooms rather than banks where handshakes were lasting commitments.
As a result of George’s tireless efforts, the investments were secured and Vail opened on schedule, Dec. 15, 1962. After the mountain opened, George contributed yet again to the resort when he formed the Gas Facilities Co. to provide the infrastructure the town would need for fuel and power as the community grew. Additionally, he lent the ski company some of his key employees to help with finance and accounting while Vail built its own management team.
In his later years, George provided the seed money that would eventually be used to build the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver, which is named for his wife, Ellie. George died in 2005 at the age of 83. He is survived by his widow, Ellie, his sons, George, John, David and Max, his daughter, Mary, and seven grandchildren.
Roger Brown is Colorado’s preeminent ski film maker who has an unparalleled 50-year record of success. He was initially hired by Bob Parker, in 1962, to create Vail’s first promotional film in partnership with Colorado Ski Country and United Airlines.
He produced “Ski the Outer Limits,” which helped promote freestyle skiing, leading it to be an Olympic event. His movie “Moebius Flip” and several other big budget films promoted tourism and winter sports in Colorado. He most recently produced the Vail 50th anniversary film, “Vail: Rise of America’s Iconic Resort.” His films have won awards at Colorado film festivals, and he received a Sports Emmy Award for Cinematography & Electronic Cameraperson for “Expedition Earth ESPN.”
He received the International Skiing History Association Lifetime Achievement Award and Ullr Award and was recognized by Skiing magazine in the top 100 skiers of all time.
Chad Fleischer grew up in Vail and trained with Ski Club Vail. He was named to the Topolino World Team at age 13, joined the Junior World Championship Team in 1990, becoming the U.S. Junior National Downhill Champion in 1990 and went on to win the U.S. National Downhill in 1995 and 1999. He made both the 1994 and the 1998 Winter Olympic teams and was a member of the U.S. World Cup team in 1993, ’95, ’97, ’99 and 2001, winning a silver medal in the downhill finals in 1999, making him Ski Racing Magazine’s Alpine Skier of the Year. He was named Alpine Skier of the Year in 1990. He was featured on “Inside Skiing with Chad Fleischer” on Fox Sports in 2000 and starred in a Visa Olympic commercial in 2002.
Richard Rokos left war-torn Czechoslovakia to pursue freedom in the United States. He was a ski racer for 19 years before beginning his coaching career at the University of Colorado in 1988. His CU team just won its seventh NCAA National Championship under his leadership, tying the record set by Hall of Fame member Bill Marolt, and continuing the winning tradition started by Hall of Fame member Bob Beattie’s CU teams, who won the first NCAA Championships in ’59 and ’60.
To Rokos, team character is equally important, thus his teams have been the top performing academic teams at CU, achieving NCAA honors, and have been actively involved in community service. Rokos’ personal commitment to community service was shown during Jimmie Heuga’s final years. Rokos and family members took Jimmy on daily outings around the CU track on a specially designed bicycle. This selfless act significantly improved Jimmy’s spirit while his body was failing him. For Rokos, it has always been about teamwork, dry land training and strong camaraderie.
Larry Zimmer has been an award-winning Colorado sportscaster and journalist for five decades. His involvement with skiing started with Channel 4 and KOA coverage of the first Pro Races at Winter Park. He produced and narrated a documentary about Denver’s rejection of the Olympics showing the venues in Innsbruck where the games were to be held in 1976. He anchored television coverage of the Rocky Mountain Division’s races, CU collegiate races, NCAA Ski Championships, American Ski Classic, World Cup events held in Colorado, Lake Placid and Salt Lake City and the 1989 World Alpine Championships in Vail. He covered the first International Special Olympic Winter Games in Steamboat and anchored television coverage of the 1990 World Disabled Championships. He received the CSCUSA award for ski racing coverage and ski journalism and was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. He is widely known as former voice of the Denver Broncos and still voice of the CU Buffaloes.
The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum’s six themed galleries display artifacts, narratives and film documentaries that entertain and educate visitors. Featured topics include Winter Olympics, skiing and snowboard history, Ski Patrol, Hall of Fame and the 10th Mountain Division training for World War II at Camp Hale. See the website at skimuseum.net, email skimuseum@ gmail.com or call 970-476-1876.