Vail Daily obituary: Thomas Fredrick Rau, 1945-2014
Thomas Fredrick Rau, who has lived in the valley for more than four decades, succumbed to complications from ALS on Sept. 27.
He died in the arms of his wife, Judith, in their Gypsum home. Tom celebrated his 69th birthday, at what he referred to as a “living wake, a celebration of his life” with family and friends a week before his death.
Judith describes Tom as such a brave person. After the diagnosis of ALS a year ago, he never became bitter. There was no “Why me?” Tom was always such a positive person, and he kept a positive attitude throughout this difficult year.
In the last few weeks of his life, Tom expressed two wishes — to live long enough to attend his birthday party and to see his newest grandchild. He achieved both. His granddaughter, Olive, was born prematurely, and although she was barely two pounds when born, is doing well. Tom saw the first photo taken of her.
Born Sept. 19, 1945, in Mosinee, Wisconsin, Tom grew up there and graduated from Mosinee High School. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison and taught skiing on weekends and holidays. Tom decided to feed his passion for skiing and move to Colorado to instruct in Vail, where he met Judith. They were married in Judith’s hometown of Walpersbach, Austria, in 1971. Their sons, Joshua and Christian, were born in the ’70s to complete their family.
Tom volunteered with the Buddy Werner League, the Blind Skier Program, Eagle Valley Ambulance District, the Little League program as a coach, was a senior buddy in the Buddies program and various programs through Vail Resorts. He was a member of Vail Rotary Club for 10 years.
Tom liked to help other people whenever he could, Judith said. He was so pleased with the amount of money raised for ALS through the ice bucket challenge. Although it was too late for him, Tom hoped in the future, lives would be spared from enduring this insidious disease.
He is survived by his wife, Judith; sons Joshua (Amber) and their daughters, Riley Scout and newborn Olive Asha, of Denver; and Christian (April) and their sons, Abram and Owen, of Arcata, California; and three sisters, Mary Margaret, Catherine and Anne Marie, who live on the West Coast.
A memorial mass will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations in Thomas’ memory can be made to the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, PO Box 2307, Edwards, CO 81632.