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The passing of an era

Don Rogers

Eagle County’s first big box retailers are under construction. Possibly the driest drought since about 1575 is just beginning to really sink in. The predictable dip in the real estate market and tourism business continues. The effects of a volatile stock market worry Wall Street-linked Vail Valley leaders. These are our daily burdens this summer.

Perhaps the community celebration Monday at the Ford Amphitheater will provide pause for considering how much this one man has meant to this part of the High Country.

His effect on lives here is profound, and his family can take pride along with grief at his death of cancer July 15 at the age of 77.

This icon, first among the pioneers of Vail, of course will come to symbolize Vail’s big changes to come in the next few years.

Our pioneers inexorably are passing into history, as of course pioneers of lasting experiments always do, eventually. Seibert lived the large life that makes legends that outlive life itself, with his wartime experiences, ski racing when doctors told him they doubted he’d walk properly again, pushing through a ski resort few thought would succeed into America’s top mountain for the sport.

From here, renovations of town – its first great wave of gentrification – and perhaps even a conference center in the next few years will show a cleavage from the Vail of the first 40 years. This Vail will be more planned, more appealing to the eye and of course will always fall short of memories of the golden age back when Seibert was at the helm.

Even so, Seibert’s influence will hold sway with the pedestrian villages and still at least faintly European feel to the town core, along with a ski company that prides itself on remaining the jewel of its industry.

The wave of ski village renovations can be traced to Seibert’s work in Vail, and so his influence covers wider ground than the valley where he is revered.

If the wider world doesn’t understand this, well, that’s their loss. We know.

At noon Monday at the Ford Amphitheater, the community has an opportunity to remember Seibert. There will be a memorial service, and reception following.

The upcoming Pioneer Days events Sept. 20-22, which celebrate Vail’s 40th, will take on added poignancy. Memories are sure to abound about the fellow most responsible for all this. People who lived here in 1976 and earlier are invited to take part in activities including golfing, parties and such.

Registration costs $25. You can mail your information – including name, address, phone and number of people attending – to Vail Pioneers Weekend, c/o Vail Chamber and Business Association, 241 South Frontage Road, Suite 2, Vail, CO 81657

For more information, visit http://www.vailchamber.org and click on “Vail Pioneers,” or call the Vail Chamber and Business Association at 477-0075.

For the memorial Monday, call the Vail Valley Foundation at 949-1999 or just show up.

If you wish to make a donation in lieu of flowers, send it on behalf of the Shaw Cancer Center in Edwards to Vail Valley Medical Center Foundation, P.O. Box 40,000, Vail, CO 81658. For more information about making a donation call 569-7484.

One more point: If you knew the man, you can count yourself fortunate. Droughts pass, the markets turn. There’s only one Peter Seibert Sr., founder of Vail.

D.R.


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