George Caulkins: Businessman, bon vivant |

George Caulkins: Businessman, bon vivant

Bill Whiteford

VAIL – There are myriad stories, mostly of doubtful authority; ego-driven and self-centered reminiscences about Vail’s origins. Who was a “founder,” truly a local citizen of the two valleys? Who did what to whom? The only tale that survives is how Vail really happened and why the cause of its creation is unique.George Caulkins made Vail a reality. He was a rare person and he’d skied all over the Alps. He was a very good squash and tennis player; he played golf. The climate was perfect for him. He used to comment: “The climate is here; wish you were beautiful.”George got himself a nice ski chalet in Aspen. He sensed the popularity of skiing was growing rapidly. He had been to many memorable parties. A regular at the Palace Hotels in St. Moritz and Gstaad, he was often present when the Golden Greek shipping magnates threw a three-day bash (an all-nighter was just another party for George).I must quickly point out that George was definitely not a playboy or a simple Goodtime Charlie. He was a dedicated, determined businessman. After some rowdy incidents in Aspen, one person told George if he didn’t like the place, why didn’t he go somewhere else?”Let’s go have another look at that place Pete Seibert is touting!” was George’s response.And that is how George Caulkins came onto the scene when it appeared that Pete and his cohorts were hopelessly beleaguered trying raise capital. The ever-resourceful and inventive George organized a partnership that was a private group of eminent businessmen from all over the world. The first million was raised.It’s not realistic to say that Vail would not have been achieved without the advent of George Caulkins. Somehow, it probably would have evolved sooner or later. Vail is unique. But George was unique, and It was a great privilege to have known him. He was a great fun, a real wit, a bon vivant par excellence. I relished my friendship with George Caulkins; I admired him enormously. I will always miss him. An irreplaceable element is gone. I think we can rejoice that he existed and was part of our own lives.Vail, Colorado

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