Harley Higbie: "Vail was all things to all people’
A brief background on each of the original members shows how diversified and effective they were. Each of their contributions played an important part in the creation of what was to be the world’s number-one ski resort.
Raised in Grosse Pointe, Mich., Harley Higbie, a banker, worked closely with George Caulkins and, like most of the other directors, played an important role. Higbie was in the background, always checking on how the project was going and determining whether there was any variation in the financial projections. If there was, he wasn’t afraid to speak up.
When the contractor from Milwaukee who had committed to building the Lodge at Vail backed out in February 1962, Higbie spearheaded a group that formed an additional limited partnership to raise money to build the lodge. It was a hairy time, because our loan from the First National Bank was contingent on completing the lodge on schedule for the opening. Without Harley’s devoted attention to the behind-the-scenes development of Vail, it might never have been completed on time. He was on the board of directors for eighteen years. He summed up the success of the board:
“You can attribute some of the success of Vail to the fact that there was a lack of a sense of greed. Nobody was in it to make a lot of money. We wanted to see it succeed. There were many complications and problems, but the group never gave up. We didn’t want it to turn into a company town. Vail was all things to all people.”
Harley and his wife, Lorraine, built a home on Mill Creek Circle the first year. They were very popular in the small but active social world that drew so many prominent people to Vail. Harley was the longest-serving director of that first board. He was active until the mid-1970s.
Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 20th installment, an excerpt from chapter 4, “The First Directors Meeting.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.