Vail loses another pioneer |

Vail loses another pioneer

Randy Wyrick

Vail lost another pioneer when Joe Langmaid died at his residence in Booth Bay Harbor, Maine. He was 92.Joe and Bunny Langmaid were among Vail’s first residents, operating the first ski shops and building the first home on Vail’s Beaver Dam Road.Like lots of early Vail residents, Langmaid took a strong role in Vail’s development by founding the fire department and serving as its chairman for many years. He was an original member of the Vail Resort Association board of directors, and served as a Town of Vail trustee during the town board’s first two terms.”Everyone had to take responsibility for something, some kind of municipal function, on top of running their businesses,” said son Charlie Langmaid, recalling Vail’s early days.Friends and family said Langmaid will be remembered for his enthusiasm for life, his love of skiing and avid bird hunting with his beloved labs.Survivors include his wife of 70 years, Bunny; Charlie and wife Patti of Vail; daughter Jane L. Smith of Danvers, Mass.; four grandchildren: Kim Langmaid Casabonne and Elissa Langmaid of Vail; and Vance and Amanda Smith of Massachusetts.Langmaid first laid eyes on Vail in July 1960, when he took a tour of the future ski area with founder Pete Seibert. They had been living in Massachusetts and Joe was working in the family lumber business. Their good friends Dick and Blanche Hauserman told him about a new ski area they were involved with, so they decided to take a look. They met Pete Seibert in Denver and headed west for their first trip to the Rocky Mountains. Siebert gave them their first tour of Vail Mountain that day, chauffeuring the Army surplus machine Seibert and Earl Eaton drove around.A skier since 1937 in New England areas, Langmaid knew a good thing when he saw it. When he returned to home to Marblehead, Mass., they began pulling up stakes and preparing to follow Horace Greeley’s greatest advice and go west.They packed up and moved out. They were 50 years old when they came here.”They had never been West, and it was a real pioneering spirit that brought them here,” said son Charlie. “It was a little like the covered wagon days when they left everything. Their entire lives were in Massachusetts, all their family and friends.”By the fall of 1962, the Langmaids were here to stay and opened Vail’s first ski rental shop, Vail Ski Rentals. The rental and repair shop was Vail’s only ski outlet for the first three seasons, starting with a few pairs of skis and some mountain-sized hopes.”I got a chance to see some of dad’s receipts from those early days, and it’s a good thing there were no other shops because there weren’t that many people,” laughed Charlie. “Some of those numbers were not all that high.”Langmaid had been skiing most of his life, but never in the ski business. In 1961 he spent a winter in an Aspen ski shop to learn the business. When they opened at Christmas, they had the first ski shop. While they were opening the shop, they were also building their home, and Joe was starting the fire department and serving on the town board.He skied as long as he could, and won the Vets National Class V Giant Slalom when the event came to Vail in 1970. He also traveled to other ski areas to race.Summers gave Langmaid the chance to golf, sail and generally goof off. He ran Vail Ski Rentals until 1971.When asked about Vail, he said the secret of Vail’s success is no secret. He attributed it to a good mountain, kept well groomed, and “people who really went out of their way to help it grow” during those first critical seasons when Vail’s success was no sure thing.Vail Colorado

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