Back Bowls were proof of potential |

Back Bowls were proof of potential

Edward StonerVail CO, Colorado

EDWARDS – Dick Hauserman was the first person to move to Vail, and now he’s leaving. But he didn’t make the decision, he said. “This did,” Hauserman said, patting the oxygen machine that was holstered to his waist.It’s getting harder and harder for him to breathe at this altitude, he said, though the energetic Hauserman still seems indefatigable at age 91. He and his wife, Bobba, are retreating to sea level, to their homes in New York and West Palm Beach, Fla.They have sold their Arrowhead home, where half-full moving boxes sit around the kitchen and the couple’s artwork is stacked in hallways.Even if the mountains no longer appeal to Hauserman’s lungs, they still have a steady hold on his heart.”I used to love to ski,” he said. “I skied all the time. I’m a golfer. I love to fly-fish. I love to hike, I’ve hiked all these ridges,” he said, gesturing at mountains surrounding his home. “All those things are such a thrill, in additional to being one of the eight people who bought a cattle ranch in 1959 that had nothing on it.”He stopped there, as if realizing he had to back up to answer the question, which had been: Will you be sad to leave Vail?He did back up, to the beginning, which was 1959. He opened his book, and pointed to a photo of an empty valley.”This is the cattle ranch that we bought,” he said. “Five-hundred and fifty acres for $55,000. That’s $100 an acre.”Hauserman was one of the eight original directors for Vail Associates. Vail founder Peter Seibert visited Hauserman in his native Cleveland, pitching an idea for a ski resort that, on one hand, seemed crazy.

On the other hand, one look at the Back Bowls made its potential clear, Hauserman said. Success storyWhen Hauserman talks about his connection to this valley, there are plenty of stories to tell. He was one of the first investors to bite on an idea of Vail. He built some of the first buildings here. He opened some of the first stores. He designed the iconic Vail logo.And he seems to love to tell the stories. His book, “The Inventors of Vail,” a history of Vail, much of which he witnessed, is testament to that.”The development and success of Vail is one of the finest success stories in United States history,” he said. “And nobody disputes that. It’s amazing when you consider that cattle ranch and you consider today it’s a metropolis 50 miles long with over 65,000 permanent residents.”At the same time, Hauserman is modest about his own contributions to Vail.”I was a part of it,” he said. “I would love to get rid of the ‘I did this’ but you can’t, really, I know that. But I suppose it’s the nature that I preferred to be a helper.”As a young man, Hauserman wanted to be an architect, graduating from the University of Southern California in 1938 with a degree in that field and plans to study in Paris. But the war changed his plans, and he joined the Navy. His father died in 1943, and he then helped his brother run the family company, which sold movable walls and steel partitions out of his hometown of Cleveland.

Out of the spotlightHauserman bought into Vail in the late ’50s, and he helped raise money to get the resort off the ground. In October of 1962, he and his then-wife moved to Vail as its first permanent residents.”I told my wife we’re going to Colorado to be pioneers, and that’s what we were,” he said.He opened the first ski shop in Vail, called Vail Blanche. He also built the Plaza Building, which still stands at the top of Bridge Street. Hauserman said he saw himself as a helper to the charismatic Seibert, especially on the business end.”He was full of ideas,” Hauserman said. “We were all crazy about him.”But Hauserman said he wanted to be away from the spotlight.”I spent an awful lot of time with the inner workings of Vail because I had 25 years in business all over the country,” he said. “I probably had some things to offer him. A lot, I think. But I always wanted to be in the background.”But by the late ’60s, Hauserman had left Vail.”My job was done,” he said.

He moved on to Steamboat Springs, where he advised the resort to rename itself “Steamboat” from Mount Werner, and helped come up with the cowboy marketing image.He later sold real estate in California, ran ski shops in Breckenridge and finally moved back to the Vail Valley 10 years ago.In his last weeks in Eagle County, Hauserman’s schedule is full, saying goodbye to old friends and doing interviews for newspapers and television stations. The couple will leave town Sept. 5.Even if his life has strayed from his dream of being an architect, Hauserman said it’s been a good ride.”We’ve had a lot of fun,” he said.And he’ll come back to Vail to visit, he said.=================’An immediate friend’Here is an excerpt from an article about Dick Hauserman in the second issue of the Vail Trail, published in November 1965:One-Man C of C Always on Deck

If you land in Vail for the first time and want an immediate friend, guide, advisor or what-not … and Richard M. “Dick” Hauserman is around – there’s your man. He’ll greet you like a long-lost buddy, help you carry your luggage to your room, tell you how to get oriented, help you fix a flat tire … just name it and Dick will break his neck trying to give you the complete red carpet treatment.His energy is limitless, he’s all over the village – you might say, “snooping” into very nook and corner to see if things are as they should be. Because, if there’s anyone around who wants more to have Vail the perfect resort facility, we don’t know who he is. Dick has helped create and maintain what we feel to be a truly fine Vail image.==================================Art exhibit”The Paintings and Figures by Dick Hauserman and Bobba Paul.”When: 4-7 p.m. Tuesday.Where: Masters Gallery, 100 E. Meadow Drive, Vail.Reservations suggested. Call 476-0954=================Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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