Letter: Pepi, a lifelong friend
I first met Pepi in 1962 when I was about 10 years old because our close family friend, Cottie Davison, introduced him to my dad, John Ferguson. Cottie’s legal practice was based in New York City and he wanted Pepi to have a local Colorado attorney to help with the initial development of the Gasthof venture. Cottie selected his Yale college buddy, John, in Denver…and that was the beginning of a lifelong and loyal friendship between my parents, John and Widge, all of us kids, the Gramshammers, and the brand new ski town of Vail.
Like so many others here and around the world, I have so many special memories of Pepi. Everyone in my family has their own, especially Widge! Of course his irresistible smile and his sparkling eyes and his unique Austrian way of “funny talking” will always stay with me. Pepi taught me NEVER to make “garage turns” on Riva Ridge, so I’ve always tried to make continuous round turns instead. If I’ve honored one skiing tip over the years, it’s that one.
Once I remember watching in awe from the bottom of Tourist Trap as Pepi descended the entire face in graceful control with a single short check of his skis. I also remember how fast Pepi liked to drive his car! Of course, I’ll never forget opening night at the Gasthof when my sister, Susie, and I helped serve a goulash and rye bread buffet to a roster of famous ski racers who arrived to celebrate. But perhaps my most original memory of Pepi happened during one of his early visits to our Denver home … he was spending the night and, as youngsters, Susie and I were both concerned that he didn’t bring a teddy bear for company! He borrowed one of ours and the next morning, he announced that “anyone who never owned a teddy bear must have lived on the other side of the moon!” Only Pepi would say it that way!
Pepi and Sheika are most responsible for my love of Austria and its culture. I learned to speak German and lived/worked in Bavaria after college. Of course, I visited Kufstein where Pepi had grown up as a boy and had told us stories of how he used to climb the mountains and even make cheese. When I left Pepi just recently for the last time, my parting words on behalf of my whole family (including my dad) were “Wir Liebe Dich, Pepi …Bis Spaeter.” We love you, Pepi … until later. nd I’ll keep on making those round turns!
Sandy Ferguson Fuller (and family)