Vail Daily obituary: Carl Dietz, 1937-2017
While riding up a chairlift with a tourist, Carl Dietz explained how he left a good paying job in a family business to move to Vail, Colorado in 1971. After talking for a while, the tourist remarked, “Wow, I’ve never met a Jewish pioneer.” Carl always got a good laugh out of that story. He was a pioneer.
Carl was born in Philadelphia on Feb. 23, 1937, to Sylvia and Simon Dietz.
He began working in his father’s hat store at the age of 13. While Dietz Hats later became a landmark in Philadelphia, Carl always knew that the hat business was not his destiny. He graduated from Lower Marion High School in 1955 and joined the U.S. Army where he served in Korea. After returning from Korea he went on to attend Temple University.
In 1960, Carl met his future wife, Gail Pollock, on a blind date. They were married within a few months. Carl worked for Mayer Pollock Steel, a family business in scrap iron and steel, which he truly enjoyed.
Throughout the 1960s, Gail and Carl traveled the West to ski, and came to Vail in 1966, for a vacation. In 1968, while at the top of Vail Mountain, they looked at one another and asked, “Why do we live in Pennsylvania all year and only visit here for two weeks? Why don’t we live here all year and visit Pennsylvania for two weeks?” In 1971, they moved with their four small children to Chamonix Chalet in West Vail. At that time, the small ski mountain in Vail was only nine years old.
One day, while eating at Kentucky Fried Chicken in downtown Vail, Carl overheard a couple talking about the need for a builder to frame their house. With very little building experience, he turned to the couple and said, “I can do that for you.” He hardly had a clue. Undaunted, he forged ahead. He answered a want ad in a Denver paper, and called Don Pressley who was a framer looking for work in the mountains. As Carpentry Unlimited, Don and Carl focused on building quality affordable homes in the Vail Valley for locals. They were business partners for 16 years.
During the times when business was slow, Carl enjoyed being a ski instructor, popcorn wagon owner, maitre d’ at Purcell’s, tennis player, squash player and golfer. He was a founding member of B’nai Vail when he enlisted the help of Rabbi Stephen Foster of Temple Emanuel in Denver to bar mitzvah his son, Michael. It was the first Jewish service in the Vail Valley, and soon a nascent congregation was born.
Not one to blow his own horn, Carl was an active, if quiet, donor to many Vail Valley organizations. His goal was to make an impact, not a statement. He gave to many, never expecting, wanting or needing anything in return. His impact on the valley will be felt for generations.
Carl Dietz is survived by his wife, Gail of 56 years, their children, Michael (Lisa), Craig (Leo Rodriguez), Leslie and Matt (Cari). He is also survived by his grandchildren Kristin Dietz, Jeffrey Dietz, Sydney Dietz and Carson Dietz. He is survived by his siblings, Ruthellen Toole, Bob Dietz (D’Vora) and Suzi Beer-Dietz (Lenny).
A memorial service is planned for sometime in the summer. In lieu of flowers, the family would ask that contributions and donations be made to a local charity of your choice.
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