Vail Daily obituary: Babs and Otto Frei
Barbara “Babs” and Otto Frei, who made the Vail area their home for nearly two decades, will have their lives celebrated at 1 p.m. Monday at the Vail Memorial Park in East Vail. A cart will be available for transport.
Babs was born May 15, 1915, in Sweden. Otto was born Aug. 1, 1915, in Zurich, Switzerland. They both died in Grand Junction, Babs on Jan. 8 and Otto, Nov. 27, 2004. Otto’s wishes were to wait and have his ashes buried with his wife’s.
Babs traveled from her home in Sweden to St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 1948 to watch the Olympics. She discovered the area was a good fit for her active lifestyle, as she could ski on snow in the morning and water ski in the afternoon.
While Babs was traveling on a train to Brussels for a job interview, she met a person who knew Otto and told her she should go to Lausanne and interview with him first. She did, and she landed a job in his shop as a beautician. They soon became partners in the huge beauty salon, and were married a year later. The salon, located in a prestigious hotel, was frequented by royalty and celebrities from throughout Europe.
Both Otto and Babs were extremely supportive of their daughter, Ann-Margreth Hall’s figure skating career. Her mother traveled with her while she competed in the 1964 Olympics and her father was her biggest fan.
When Ann-Margreth retired from skating to live in Lake Creek, the Freis became frequent visitors. They moved permanently to the Vail area after their grandson Alexander was born in 1985.
Otto was extremely proud of attaining his U. S. citizenship in 1996, Ann-Margreth said. He took citizenship classes at Colorado Mountain College as he was anxious to vote. B
abs attained hers a few years later as she always wanted to be a United States citizen. She had three passports when she died — Swedish, Swiss and U.S.
Otto retired when he arrived in America, but as a hobby, he created jewelry. Both Babs and Otto were active with the Over the Hill Gang (the predecessor of Club 50).
Otto was a wine taster in Europe. Although it was a hobby, he was invited to attend many exotic dinners in beautiful castles. When he came to America, he actually watered down his wine, his daughter said. Otto was a very good businessman and he was also a master in the Masonic Lodge, attaining a 32rd degree mason status.
After settling in the Vail Valley, Babs jumped right into volunteerism, working at the Eagle Valley Community Fund Rummage Sale, The Vail Valley Medical Center Volunteer Corps, ushering at Bravo! Vail concerts and at the Vilar Center. She was a strong volunteer presence at both the 1989 and 1999 World Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek.
She joined the Happy Hikers and made her mark with them by stripping her clothes off and leaping in for a swim in the icy mountain lakes when the group reached their destination.
She loved skiing, and continued to hit the slopes after she had to quit hiking because of nerve damage in her legs after back surgery. She skied at Arrowhead until she was 85. One of Babs’ favorite volunteer efforts was working with the blind skiers in Innsbruck during the 1974 Special Olympics.
The Freis are survived by their daughter, Ann Margreth Hall, of Edwards, their son Stephan (Fabienn) Frei, of Lausanne, Switzerland; grandsons Alexander Hall, of Edwards, Oskar Frei and David Frei, of Lausanne, and granddaughter, Letitia Frei of Lausanne.