Carnes: Too many changes around here |

Carnes: Too many changes around here

No, I am not once again whining about the aches and pains of starting another decade with a beating heart.

However, I am sadly empathizing about a few of the major personnel changes in Happy Valley over these past few weeks due to hearts that beat for the final time.

When Pepi Gramshammer passed on August 17, a little bit of Vail’s original soul left with him. His death wasn’t a surprise or a shock, but more of a reflective shot in the arm to remind us all about the pioneer spirit it took to make Vail the wildly successful ski area it became during those early years.
With Sheika and the girls, along with their own respective families, the Gramshammer name will live on, even though it will be just a little bit different.

Last week’s passing of Sandy Treat, like Pepi’s death, wasn’t a surprise or a shock, but more of a valley-wide collective sigh of, “Well…damn.”

Leaving us at the extremely ripe old age of 96, he lived more life than most of us could ever dream of even if we lived to 196.

We met in the mid-’80s when Sandy II (his dad was the first Sandy) was already in his mid-60s, and like most people having the pleasure to meet the man, I considered him a friend from that point forward.

Two days after his passing a birthday reminder on social media popped up about his son, Sandy Treat III, who sadly passed away from cancer in 2015.
Two days after that I had the good fortune to play in a golf tournament with Sandy Treat IV, where he not only won the long drive contest, but he regaled me with stories about his son, Sandy Treat V.

Suffice it to say Happy Valley will continue to have a cherished Sandy Treat in her midst for years to come, regardless of the Roman numeral.

And then we had the unfortunate surprise and shock of losing Neil Schram and Mac McCain.

Like so many familiar faces in a small valley, I had met Neil a few times over the decades but never really got to know him, though I know plenty thought the world of the man.

Mac McCain, on the other hand, has been my friend for over 30 years, and his passing gives pause to many of us for many reflective reasons.

Not only did he own one of the sweetest voices in the Rockies, but he could also play the guitar like a man possessed with magic fingers and did it all while rocking the perfect porn star mustache and — during the ’80s and early ’90s — somehow making a mullet look good.

The man was talented.

The week Dan Fogelberg played Dobson in the early ’90s, Mac bragged about how they were friends, claiming to have sat in on a recording session with the superstar. Lo and behold, the next day Fogelberg came into my old music store to buy guitar strings (Mac had purchased a few thousand over the years), so naturally I asked him about Mac.

“Mac who?” he responded.

He actually did remember Mac, and the claim was true, but humored me by signing that very phrase on a publicity poster of himself, and it was a special memory when I presented it to Mac.

He consistently entertained in dozens of bars and restaurants around the valley for decades, wowed the crowd at my wedding, and will be missed by all.

Big changes occur, especially in small valleys. 

Some are expected, others not so much, but all have an impact.

Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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