Remembering Bob Lazier: Family members reflect on the legacy of a Vail pioneer
Robert 'Bob' Lazier, Dec. 22, 1938 – April 18, 2020
- The Lazier family will hold a celebration of life for Bob Lazier at a later date.
Diane Lazier: Life will have many fewer laughs and less outlandish enthusiasm. Bob and I had 58 truly amazing years together. Only in America and Vail can someone with Bob’s background (an orphan until age 9) accomplish what he did. He had an astonishing full life and he did it his way.
Bob was many things to many people. Just to scratch the surface — he was a founding visionary of Vail; a role model to many; a friend to all; a builder and developer; a pilot and aviation enthusiast; a college provider for so many; a hotel owner; a pirate ship explorer and a race car driver/team owner. But his legacy can be found in his children and grandchildren.
Buddy Lazier: My father passed and, with the exception of my wife, I lost my best friend of 52 years. We shared in the ups and downs. Some painful situations and some glorious moments. The bond I share with my dad is unbreakable. I know he loved the town of Vail, the ski industry, development, and motor racing.
How fortunate that we shared the same interests over the years. I have always been impressed with his enthusiasm for life and the zest in which he lived. The big heart he carried with him was almost as big as his smile. My dad and I shared in the hotel business, the development/construction/commercial businesses. Over the 40-50 year period, there were many memories, lessons, and persistence. We spent so much time together as I grew up and he grew older. I am grateful for those memories and lessons.
One of the businesses we enjoyed together was auto racing. In the late 1980s, my dad and I started racing with our own team. On a shoestring budget, we did it the only way we knew how. We started at the bottom of the ladder and worked our way up to the top. In the beginning of our Indy car racing, one of the events my father and I often looked back at with humor was when we entered the Laguna Seca IndyCar race.
On the first day of practice, the car and the crew still had not arrived. The second day that was to be qualifying day, we got word that there was a transporter stuck and could not make it up the hill getting into the race track as it was broken down and blocking all traffic. We had a sinking feeling knowing that was probably our transporter. We had to get a tow vehicle to get the transporter into the track. Later that day we finally got on the race track for the last session of qualifying.
Days late and many dollars short, we were getting the car up to speed and they flagged me into the pits as the race car was on fire. One of our good friends and team owner Doug Shierson told my father “Bob, just let the car burn.”
No time to fix the car we loaded up and went home. We had a lot of hard work and perseverance over the next six or seven years as we struggled, and though I had gone on to race for other teams, he was always there with me as we enjoyed winning the Indy 500 and many races including the Indy car championship. We learned the persistence of hard work together.
My father took great solace that my family and I have always lived and called Vail our home. The love we share for Vail aligned perfectly with Bob’s love of Vail. It was important to him and he was comforted knowing we had made our life here and that his grandchildren Flinn and Jacqueline have as well, and that his legacy will be continued. With his smile and an attitude that was very infectious, he was such a positive guy. Don’t let my dad’s passing of complications of this terrible plague define his life. Please celebrate and remember how Bob lived! I know Kara and I will. Dad, we will always be with you and love you so very much.
Flinn Lazier: Grandpa Bob is the one who taught me what it means to work hard and smile, no matter the circumstances. I will never forget how easily he could make a friend just by introducing himself and smiling (usually accompanied by a joke). Each person he met truly meant something to him and I don’t think he took a single interaction for granted. He was as authentic as they get, and I think everyone who met him saw that.
I am going to miss having breakfast in the lobby with him, talking racing with him, going racing with him, laughing about how good Speed (his dog) was at getting waffles from the guests. I will never forget the hustler’s mentality he had to create the life he wanted for himself and his family. With his furry, chocolate best friend by his side, he lived every day to the fullest and I know he wouldn’t have wanted to spend it any other way.
Jacqueline Lazier: My grandfather and I had a lot of good memories together but one memory that stands out to me is the time he taught me how to ride a bike. I was 5 years old and my dad was going to teach me, but grandpa persistently wanted to be a part of this life experience with me, so we headed off. I crashed here and there but grandpa never gave up on me and eventually I got the hang of it and I’ve never seen him prouder. That day will forever be in my memories.
Wendy Lazier: Bob Lazier was my dad. I don’t need to tell you about his love of racing or his buildings in Vail. Google can do that. Let me tell you about my dad.
One of my earliest and fondest memories is of eight-hour trips to Lake Powell. No one who has ever been in or remembers our monster Econoline vans is not already smiling. Dad would throw me and my brothers, and usually, a friend each, into the three back seats and down the highway we went.
I dispute, vehemently, any assertion of excessive speeds. The eight-hour trip with six kids will be left to your imagination. No, you’re not even close. Skipping to the good part, we would arrive in the middle of the night ready for dad’s traditional challenge of “First one in gets a dollar!”
What everyone needs to remember is that Lake Powell is fed from our gorgeous Rocky Mountains. Early May waters are lovely at Lake Powell. At 3 in the afternoon, not 3 in the morning. Raucous fun followed by unmanly high-pitched screams and splashes were always worth more than the dollar.
Dad loved good-hearted fun. He worked hard and played harder. And he brought you along with him for the fun. He never met a stranger and loved to find out what you found fun. Life was his playground. His weekend attire was a t-shirt at SCCA meets that proclaimed “He with the most toys wins!” And he did everything for his family. He loved Vail, and the people who chose it to develop families and buildings here. He left his mark grounded in his friends and family far stronger than the foundations of his buildings.
For those who met him fleetingly, following the chocolate lab, know that the smiling, overtly friendly man was the true and always Bob Lazier.
I love you, dad, you will be remembered and truly missed.
Jaques Lazier: Ask anyone to describe my father, and you will get many of the same descriptions. He always moved fast, had a big smile, loved his family and Vail, and he made everyone feel like a friend. All of these descriptions are correct, but I believe one of the most beautiful attributes my father possessed was the depth of compassion he had for those in need.
Let me share with you a story, that in my eyes, truly represents what was at the core of his character. I was 12 years old and one of my favorite things to do was to work with dad, learning how to do construction and business. Today it was construction, and we were taking a load of building material down to do some work in Dowd.
We stopped to get gas at the Conoco station in West Vail. There was a couple that looked down on their luck. They were not panhandling, nor did they approach us for help. Somehow, dad just knew. He called the young gentleman over to our truck and handed him $100 and his business card. The young couple, with tears in their eyes, said thank you. We didn’t talk about it on the way home. But before I went to sleep that night I told him how proud I was, and that I hoped to be able to make others smile like that someday too.
Fast forward three years. I was in the lobby of the Tivoli Lodge and had just finished cleaning and checking the chlorine levels of the pool when a family walked in asking if Bob Lazier was around. I called dad to the front desk. When dad got there the young man said, “I do not know if you remember us? It was three years ago that my wife and I were down on our luck and feeling very scared. We were at the gas station trying to figure out how we were going to get home to Oklahoma. You called us over to your truck and gave us $100 and your business card. You said this was not a handout, it was a wedding gift. You even offered to let us stay in your hotel.”
They then handed dad $200 and said, “I believe this should take care of the interest.” Dad, as he always did, said he could not accept it. However, with a stern look in his eyes, the young man said “Please accept this out of gratitude. We owe you so much more. You gave us faith that there are good people who are willing to help. Since that day, we have tried to live our lives with the same compassion. I have a great job now, and a newborn baby boy. Would you like to meet Robert.” That day, I was the one with tears in my eyes and the knowledge that my father was a hero.
My father has touched so many people’s lives. Often, he had no clue that his actions were so meaningful to those around him. But, he didn’t do it for self-glory or self-satisfaction. No, he did it because it was the right thing to do. My father was very blessed at a young age, he was an orphan that found an angel in my grandmother. Dad always felt his mother was his hero for giving so much of herself unconditionally to him. It’s not a surprise that he has spent his life showing compassion to those in need.
Dad, thank you for the many lessons you have taught me over the years. I promise I will always strive to help those in need, honoring your legacy of kindheartedness. It’s such an honor to know I have instilled the same depth of compassion in my son, Cayden. His dream to become a surgeon is steeped in the same compassion to help others. I know you will be watching him from above. You are my hero, dad, and will never be forgotten. God Speed. We are forever grateful … Jaques, Angelique and Cayden Lazier
“Go fast and win, Bob” — The Laziers and Speed