Local homebuilder, sportsman Sandy Treat passed Jan. 7

The beach was one of Sandy Treat's favorite places.
Special to the Daily |

Honoring Sandy

Sandy Treat’s family is currently working on a celebration of his life. The tentative date is Jan. 24, with the place to be determined.

This story has been corrected in regard to the ownership of the Inn and Suites at Riverwalk.

EAGLE COUNTY — Brooks Keith shakes a lot of hands — you do that when you’re the pastor of the local Episcopal Church. But he can still feel Sandy Treat’s handshake. So do many others.

Treat — the son of 10th Mountain Division veteran Sandy Treat — died Wednesday after a battle with cancer. He was 55. That battle sapped his strength — all such battles do — but Treat’s wife Kathy said her husband of 28 years remained a positive force in the world even in his last days.

That positive force helped Treat become a well-known homebuilder in the valley. He and his companies, Summit Habitats and Treat Development, built hundreds of homes in the valley, in Edwards, Singletree, Beaver Creek and elsewhere.

Treat also built the Inn and Suites at Riverwalk, which he still owned, along with Kathy and partner Hans Storr.

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As a custom builder, Kathy remembers that the family moved often, completing a house, then selling it a couple of years later. That career as a builder in the Vail Valley began in the late 1980s. But Treat’s life as a builder started when he was a boy.

Treat’s father, Sandy, remembers his son’s grandfather, Anders Knutson, telling his grandson in his Norwegian-accented English, “Do it right, Sandy … there’s only one way … make it straight.”

That dedication, along with Treat’s personality, served him well.

Kathy recalled that Treat’s first project in Beaver Creek, the Hay Meadows, was a tough job, backing up against a hillside.

“A lot of developers, I think, were afraid of it,” Kathy said. “But (Treat) was the young buck, and made it work.”

That work led a couple of the early buyers, Bobby Cox and Humphrey Folk, to back Treat’s next Beaver Creek project, Larkspur Villas.

A buyer at Larkspur became another partner.

“That happened a lot,” Kathy said.

That personality

Which gets us back to pastor Keith, who was effusive in his praise.

“He had a winning smile, and a firm handshake,” Keith said. “You felt elevated when you met him.”

Kim Newbury met Treat when both were fairly new to the valley. Today, Newbury is the general manager of the Inn and Suites at Riverwalk.

After working with Treat at Arrowhead, Newbury hadn’t seen the Treats in some time when she interviewed for the job at the hotel.

“I hadn’t seen him in 10 years, and it was just so familiar,” Newbury said. “He was the most generous, kind owner we could ask for. He had an understanding of the hotel business and knew how to make guests feel at home. He was very caring toward the employees, too.”

Jim Wear has known the Treats since they moved to the valley. Wear started doing legal work for Treat’s fledgling building company, and the two soon became fast friends.

“He was always upbeat — he had the best attitude,” Wear said. “Even through his cancer, he was an upbeat, tough guy.”

That toughness was on display at a celebration for Treat in August of 2014. About 400 people came.

“Sandy personally greeted everyone, and it was hard for him,” Wear said.

Toughness in sport

That toughness served Treat well as an athlete, too. He was an accomplished skier in college, and after moving to Vail was an avid participant in masters and town race series.

An email from Kathy reads:

“Sandy won numerous National and Regional Masters Super G, and Giant Slalom, Championships. He continually overcame injuries to maintain his status as one of the fastest in the nation, including this previous season. Sandy is an eight-time National Masters Champion including the 2002 super-G in Winter Park, the 2003 super-G and giant slalom in Park City, Utah, the 2006 super-G in Sunday River, Maine, and the overall fastest super-G competitor at the Western Regional Championships in Park City, Utah, this past February. Sandy was a mentor and huge fan of the Vail Valley’s youngest, aspiring ski racers.”

In addition to his passion for snow, Treat was a well-regarded competitive water skier. The email from Kathy continues:

“Sandy competed in many of the U.S. National water ski championships around the country, as well as in the elite level, invitation-only, Big Dawg Tournaments. He was recently awarded first annual “Bring the Gas” award, for those skiers who “bring passion, enthusiasm and positivity to the sport of water skiing.” He received this award from Water Ski Colorado on Sept. 6 of this past year.”

That was also the day he and Kathy celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary.

In a phone conversation, Kathy called Treat a “ray of sunshine” in the lives of her, her sons and virtually everyone else he met.

“He was interested in everyone,” Kathy said. He loved conversing with people, getting to know who they were. He never said a bad word about anyone.”

The passion Treat brought to his life may have been partially the result of his knowing his time on earth might be short.

“He wanted to enjoy life’s pleasures,” Kathy said.

After being diagnosed with cancer, Treat was determined to make several visits to favorite places and meet his favorite people. There was a trip to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in September of last year to get together with friends from days at the Holderness School.

Another trip took the Treats to Santa Rosa Beach in Florida.

In November, the Treats went to their longtime vacation home in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

“That was the last trip we took,” Kathy said. “If it was a week later, he couldn’t have done it.”

Wear said his old friend’s death is more than a loss for his family and friends, “It’s a real loss for Vail.”

Keith agreed.

“The whole family represents the best of the valley,” Keith said.

At the end of her email, Kathy wrote:

“Sandy is survived by his wife Kathy, his sons Sandy IV and Andrew, his father Sandy Jr., his sister Cindy Treat Hollister, brother-in-law John Hollister; his nieces Ally, Arianna and Kristin, and his nephews Will and Ben and Andrew, as well as his beloved pit bull, Layla, and Jack Russell terrier Jackie Boy. The sadness of Sandy’s untimely passing has left a hole in each of their hearts. Sandy will be intensely missed each and every day. His legacy of love, creativity and passion however, will endure forever.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, or @scottnmiller.

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