West Vail ‘original’ dies at 70 in Carbondale
VAIL – One of the original West Vail residents and a full-time Vail character, Benno Scheidegger, died Feb. 18 at Heritage Park Care Center in Carbondale where he had been since August. He was 70.A celebration of his life will be held at 3 p.m. on March 5 at Donovan Pavilion in West Vail. Scheidegger was born in Murnau, Germany, and raised in Penzberg, where he learned the plumbing and heating business from his father. He moved to New York City in 1956 and continued his plumbing business. He moved to Vail in 1969 after vacationing with a ski club during which he discovered the growing area could use a plumber.”All he did was work and have a good time,” said his son, Benno. “The thing that everybody loved about him is he was a very giving person who loved to have a good time. He called everybody ‘Bubbele ‘(sonny) and all the ladies ‘Schatzi’ (sweetheart).”
Friend Herbie Schorpp, who lives in West Vail, met Scheidegger in New York while working on construction projects.”I came to this country April 22, 1961 and met him the first day,” Schorpp said. “He was a good-hearted guy. It’s too bad to see him go. I used to call him the ‘Mayor of Vail’.”Dennis Walcher started working for Scheidegger when he was 16 and he worked with him for 14 years before moving to Denver. “I’ve had people in restaurants and car dealerships in Denver ask me if I knew this German guy in Vail who was a plumber,” he said. “He left his mark throughout the Front Range, too. He would go out of his way to make you happy.”Walcher remembers his boss as having a knack for being able to fix a plumbing problem in a restaurant, then convincing the chef to make him a sandwich and the bartender to serve him a beverage.
One of those places was Gasthof Gramshammer, one of the original Vail Village buildings.”We met him in the early ’70s,” said owner Sheika Gramshammer. “He became the Gasthof Gramshammer house plumber. We would call him sometimes at 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. with plumbing problems. He’d always curse like a truck driver but he was always there to help us.”You had to take him as he was,” she added. “He was a diamond in the rough and a wonderful friend.”In addition to operating his plumbing business Scheidegger built a number of homes and condominiums in West Vail and a commercial building He is survived by his son Benno and daughter-in-law Kristi and newborn grandson Benno, all of Edwards; ex-wife Karin Scheidegger of West Vail; and by a sister, Ellen Dipert, of Minneapolis.
Scheidegger was introduced to his new grandson just a week before he passed away, his son said.The family requests that donations be made to the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards.Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado