Seibert family says farewell
July 19, 2002
“Everything that was expected from other people, he expected from us,” says Pete Seibert Jr., Peter Seibert’s oldest son. “The second year I skied in Vail, a friend and I cut underneath a closure rope on a trail. It was icy. I made three turns and broke my leg. I sat there waiting and I watched him hike up all the way up from his office knowing that I was in real trouble for cutting the rope.”
Pete Jr., 46, of Edwards, was on vacation with his family in Michigan Monday when he learned of his father’s death. Founder of Vail, a World War II veteran, 10th Mountain Division trooper and a former U.S. Ski Team racer, Peter Seibert died Monday after a nine-month battle with esophageal cancer. He was 77.
“We had a lot of fun with Pete,” says Pete Jr., who likes to refer to his father by his first name. “He was always up to something. He always had somebody to carry the details; his mind was set on the big project. He was more interested in laying out trails and the golf course than getting down to the brass tacks of it.”
For a long time, every six months, Pete Jr. recalls, somebody would come to his father and say, “You got to see this (other) mountain.”
“We went to Alaska and British Columbia to look at mountains, but there was always something that didn’t work,” Pete Jr. says. “But the trips were always fun because the people at the other end were dreamers, too.”
The old Vail
Pete Jr. was 7 years old in 1962 when he moved to Vail from Denver with his family for the opening of “the Mountain.”
“In the beginning, everybody knew each other, everybody watched for other people’s kids,” Pete Jr. says. “Kids ran around town and there was always somebody keeping an eye on us.”
In the early days, Pete Jr. skied China Bowl with his father before hiking to chair 5.
“I can remember skiing with great skiers with Pete: Jimmie Heuga, Billy Kid, Jean-Claude Killy,” Pete Jr. says. “The U.S. Ski Team would come to Vail to train and we would jump on their slalom course. It was a way of life. And that was something Pete taught me – that the best part of ski racing is all the people involved.”
The Seiberts always had international ski racers coming to stay with them, says Pete Jr., who is the head trustee of Ski Club Vail. He has four children in the program.
As he remembers his father, Pete Jr. keeps going back to Vail’s early days.
“This place was very isolated at that time. We were so lucky to be able to be here then,” he says.
Despite Vail’s rapid growth – Vail Mountain now hosts 1.6 million skiers annually – his father was happy with the way the valley was growing, Pete Jr. says.
“Pete was always excited about people who came in and brought things to the party, something new,” Pete Jr. says. “He liked the way Vail developed. After all, his original vision, the village itself, was still the same.”
When Pete Jr. was 16, his parents got divorced – his mother, Elizabeth, now lives in Edwards.
“It was a pretty amicable situation,” Pete Jr. says. “They (parents) were able to work things out with the kids. In fact, my mom spent the last month helping me take care of Pete.”
His brother, Brant, lives in Boulder with a wife, Suzanne. His other brother, Calvin, lives in New York.
Every day, when he goes to work as a real estate broker in Vail, Pete Jr. says he is amazed by the place his father envisioned.
“I feel so much pride,” he says.
Seibert’s discovery, made with Earl Eaton, has made many millionaires in the past 40 years. And Vail Resorts has prospered. Net income for the last quarter, for example, was $46.9 million.
Pete Seibert, however, wasn’t a wealthy man, Pete Jr. says.
“He was more invested in the overall picture,” he explains. “Pete just loved to find somebody a spot where he knew they would enjoy it. He didn’t spend the time trying to mind his own pocket, and as a result he wasn’t wealthy when he died.”
Pete Jr. says he never sensed any bitterness in his father about that, either.
“In the end, what is more important is what you’ve accomplished and not so much what you’ve accumulated.”
Late in life, Pete Seibert’s passion was his five grandchildren: Petey, Anna, Tony and Lizzie, the children of Pete Jr. and Teri Seibert; and Maya, Brant and Suzanne Seibert’s daughter.
“Pete skied and golfed with the kids,” Pete Jr. says. “He attended their soccer games. When we gave him new shots of the kids, he would carry them around all the time, very proud of them.”
The last couple years, Pete Seibert didn’t ski because of his knee, injured in World War II. He kept himself for golf, which he loved, Pete Jr. says.
In the last month of life, as his health deteriorated, however, Pete Seibert didn’t give up his plans and goals. In the spring, following radiation therapy for cancer in his throat, he made it to Palm Springs, Calif., to play golf.
He also dreamed of finishing his second book, “For the Love of the Mountains,” and was planning a trip with his sons to Italy in September to retrace the steps he made in the 10th Mountain Division during the war, Pete Jr. says.
“All my children have Pete’s determination,” Pete Jr. says. “On the soccer field or on the mountain, skiing.
“The kids were very lucky to have Pete around. The skiing … the love of it,” he says. “Last summer we went with Pete to Camp Hale. We picked up mushrooms and we cooked them there. He was able to show them all that stuff.”
As Pete Jr. spoke on Thursday, flags in Beaver Creek and Vail flew at half-staff as the community mourned the loss of its creator.
“Celebration’ service July 29
Family members of the late Peter W. Seibert have decided to do a “celebration” service instead of a memorial.
The Pete Seibert Celebration Service will be held at noon Monday, July 29, at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail.
“The Seibert family felt strongly this was a celebration of Pete’s life rather than a memorial service,” said Mia Vlaar, marketing director of the Vail Valley Foundation, which is working with Vail Resorts to commemorate Pete Seibert’s life.
A reception at the amphitheater will follow immediately afterward. For more information about the services, contact the Vail Valley Foundation at 949-1999.
Pete Seibert Jr. said Thursday he will make public on the day of the services where his father’s ashes will be scattered.
“He had a request,” the younger Seibert said. “But I will wait to tell everybody at the service.”
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Harold W. and Mary Louise Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards. The Cancer Center provides an elite level of care for cancer patients in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Checks should be made out to the Vail Valley Medical Center Foundation and should include “Peter Seibert Memorial” in the reference line. Donations should be mailed to the Vail Valley Medical Center Foundation, P.O. Box 40,000, Vail, CO
81658. For more information about making a Peter Seibert Memorial
donation, call (970) 569-7484.