Remembering Al Cohen, original Vail builder |

Remembering Al Cohen, original Vail builder

Alex Miller
AL COHEN -- Denver engineer who built many of the buildings in downtown Denver, including the Qwest Tower and Mountain Bell Center. for obit

DENVER – When Vail’s founders were looking for an able contractor to build the very first structures of the new resort, they turned to Al Cohen.Cohen was well-known in Denver for building a number of large projects, including the Qwest Tower, a 54-story building originally known as the Mountain Bell Center. According to Dick Hauserman, an original member of the board for Vail, Cohen came to the mountains in the early 1960s and became one of the team.”He wasn’t just your normal building contractor,” Hauserman said. “He was really involved socially, part of the whole effort.”Cohen’s company built the upper and lower terminals of Vail’s first gondola, as well as the first base lodge and the original structure at Mid-Vail. He also built one of the town’s first commercial buildings for Hauserman, which contained the resort’s first ski shop.”He couldn’t have been a nicer guy,” Hauserman said. “He was a big name in Denver, involved in everything. He was really part of the original team that built Vail.”Cohen, a Denver native, was born March 5, 1921 and graduated from East High School. He briefly attended the Colorado School of Mines before going to war. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and upon graduation served in World War II. After the war, he earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology and returned to Denver to start his construction company.Cohen was well known as a philanthropist in Denver. He raised funds for National Jewish Medical and Research Center’s outpatient facility, which bears his name. He was a lifelong honorary trustee for the University of Denver and a benefactor of the Denver Museum of Nature and ScienceCohen died Sept. 30 at his home after a long illness stemming from a series of strokes. He was 84.He is survived by his wife, Gerri Cohen; daughter Debra Lamb; sons Roger Cohen and David Cohen; sister Harriet Schwartz; and 10 grandchildren. Vail, Colorado

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