Vail Clinic begins with a painful trip to Aspen |

Vail Clinic begins with a painful trip to Aspen

Dick Hauserman
Daily file photoJohn Murchison did a lot to get Vail started, such as building the Vail Clinic. It was suggested the clinic building be called the John and Lupe Murchison Clinic.

This was a major development for Vail, and it all started on New Year’s Eve of 1964. Dr. Bob Oden was well acquainted with the Murchisons – John and Lupe – who had skied frequently in Aspen before moving to Vail. As Bob tells the story:

“John had a sprained ankle. I looked at him one night – it may have been at a cocktail party. I said, “I think this got sprained, John – do this and that.’ John asked, “How much do I owe you?’ I replied, “John, you don’t owe me anything!’

“The next year, Lupe had a minor injury, and again John said, “Bob, how much do I owe you?’ I once again replied, “Don’t worry about it!’

“Later, something happened once again and John said, “Bob this is the third year you have treated me without charging!’ And again I said, “John, wait until you do something serious. I am a firm believer in noblesse oblige. I don’t know at this time – we won’t talk about it!

“On New Year’s Eve 1964, Lupe and John were skiing with Charley and Suzie Meyer, and John had a bad fall, hurting his leg. He was taken down in a toboggan. Because there was no hospital, and no doctor, he was told to go to Aspen. Lupe distinctly remembers taking him – in her ski clothes – to the hospital in Aspen. There was a blizzard coming in. They had a little German Volkswagen station wagon and drove to Aspen, with John in a lot of pain, saying, “God works in strange ways, because the next thing for Vail would be a hospital.’ He started the hospital right after his surgery.

“They arrived at about 5 p.m. I was supposed to go to a fancy New Year’s Eve party that night but met them at the hospital. John had torn all the ligaments in his knee. As I welcomed John into the hospital, John said, “I know what this is going to cost me!’ I replied, “No, you don’t, John – we’ll talk about it later.’

“So when John was beginning to rest comfortably, I said, “John, what I would like you to do is to start a nonprofit corporation and build a medical clinic in Vail.’ John said he would.”

An architect was then hired to design the building. Originally Vail picked out a 60-by-100-foot spot in the middle of town, but Bob Oden insisted that they look for a larger space. Vail Associates reluctantly gave them the present site, thought to be quite far from town at the time. John Murchison came through again. He established a nonprofit corporation and built the clinic on donated land. Oden said that Murchison sent him an itemized bill, which included all legal fees, building costs, and other items, which was just under $400,000. When John paid it, on the bottom he wrote, “Paid in full, Bob. Have you ever sent a bigger bill? Thanks. John.”

It was suggested that the clinic building be called the John and Lupe Murchison Clinic. Being modest as he was and always preferring to stay in the background, John didn’t want that.

Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 45th installment, an excerpt from chapter 6, “It’s Now a Ski Resort.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.

Support Local Journalism