Vail’s early buildings would have been different without Bill Loper (obituary)
VAIL — Longtime Vail resident William “Bill” Loper passed away with his family surrounding him. Bill is remembered as brilliant, innovative, compassionate and generous. He had just turned 91.
Bill was born on Jan. 30, 1927, and raised on the Western Slope in Olathe. His parents, Roy and Charlotte Loper, were school teachers and his late older brother, Robert, was a renowned dramatist in the northwest. At the tender age of 17, Bill enlisted in the navy. Upon his discharge, through the GI bill, he entered the University of Washington, then transferred to and graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder. It is there he met the love of his life and wife of 65 years, Ann Falk Loper.
At CU, he also found lifelong friends Leonard Perlmutter and Mike Altenberg, with whom he forged not only a friendship but a 30-year partnership (1952-1983), creating and expanding Prestressed Concrete of Colorado (later Stanley Structures), a company that revolutionized construction. In that period as a founder, Bill and his partners’ vision took the company from working out of a boxcar in which they designed a concrete Twin-Tee beam to becoming the premier manufacturer and builder of concrete products in the western half of the country and Canada.
Vail’s explosive creation in the 1960s was a direct result of Prestressed’s ability to manufacture concrete materials in the winter in Denver, then truck them to Vail after the snow thawed and erecting them. Notable buildings include the Wedel Inn, Vail International, The Mark, the Vail Racquet Club, Sandstone, Villa Cortina and the communication tower. Prestressed also built Lionshead: both lift houses, top and bottom and the parking structure. Bill Loper was universally respected in his general management from inception to fruition for each complex project. Bill could distill into simpler terms or to innovate when required, to get the job done. Following his retirement from Stanley Structures in 1983, Bill co-founded Cygnus, a company that patented an innovative architectural exterior cladding system. The company’s many projects include Cobo Hall in Detroit, the National Air & Space Museum, the Disney Corporate Headquarters in Los Angeles and the Vail Post Office.
In Denver, Ann and Bill raised three children, Amy, Steve and Ted, to be equally passionate about skiing and the outdoors. After Villa Cortina was built in 1978, the Lopers established a part-time, then permanent, residence in 1993 to pursue this active lifestyle for four decades.
While Ann taught for Vail’s ski school, Bill was equally accomplished in skiing, from daily powder outings to annual trips to Park City, Jackson and occasional helicopter skiing in Canada. He only hung up his skis three years ago. In addition to floating in the Back Bowls, Bill was an enthusiastic squash player, which also translated to tennis, handball, fishing sailing, diving and hiking.
With the children grown, Bill and Ann turned their attention and charity to caring for animals and the Eagle Valley Humane Society. Bill served as the society’s president for almost 20 years and at home fostered and socialized feral kittens for a 99 percent adoption rate. He loved classical music and opera. He and Ann attended performances in Santa Fe, Denver and the Bravo! series. Among his intellectual pursuits, besides supporting political candidates who held similar liberal beliefs, were being in the Vail “Philosopher’s Club” with three dear friends and playing chess.
Bill’s life included travel and adventures far and wide, and a devoted wife, family and friends.
His immediate survivors are his wife Ann, his children Amy, Steve (Jennifer) and Ted (Virginie), grandchildren, Eli, Maria, Martin, Willow and Margaux, and great-grandson, Lucien.
A memorial is planned at the end of February.
Because Bill loved all animals, the Loper family suggests that those wishing to make donations to his memory contribute to the Eagle Valley Humane Society.