Glenn enjoyed quiet times in Vail |

Glenn enjoyed quiet times in Vail

FILE - In this May 14, 2015 file photo, former astronaut and senator John Glenn answers questions during an interview at the Ohio Statehouse. Glenn died Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, at the age of 95. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon, File)
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VAIL — John Glenn for a time was one of the most recognizable people in the U.S. When he was in Vail, he was just a friend and neighbor.

The former astronaut, the first American to orbit the earth and former U.S. Senator first came to Vail in the 1970s, along with his wife, Annie, and their two children. Through then-Rep. Gerald Ford, the Glenns got to know Sheika and Pepi Gramshammer.

After vacationing in Vail for some time, Glenn joined the Gramshammers as an original partner in the new Potato Patch Club. The family still owns its home there.

While Glenn was one of the most well-known men in the U.S. through the 1980s, the family kept a low profile in Vail.

“He called Vail his retreat, a place for getting his act together,” Sheika Gramshammer said. “He’d come to Vail and feel rejuvenated.”

Rod and Beth Slifer for a time also owned a home at Potato Patch, and came to know the Glenn family.

Rod Slifer agreed that Glenn stayed out of the local limelight. But, he added, Glenn would speak to any local group that invited him.

The family visits included skiing, of course, but as John and Annie got older, those visits came more in the summer than the colder months.

“They enjoyed the outdoors, and they enjoyed the people here,” Gramshammer said.

As Gramshammer remembers it, the Glenns came nearly every year, and as recently as 2015.

While the family didn’t seek attention in Vail, the Glenns made a lasting impression on those who met them.

“Annie is just a saint,” Beth Slifer said. “And (John) is just a man of courage and integrity, he’s really beyond reproach.”

Rod Slifer remembers the former astronaut as “down to earth as could be… One of my favorite picture is when our daughter was four or five, and she was on her hands and knees in our kitchen, along with John Glenn, on his hands and knees, and a toy rocket ship… They’re just wonderful people.”

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