September 3, 2008
Longtime Aspen resident and local business owner Fritz Lindner, 88, died on Aug. 19, 2008, in Redmond, Ore.
Fritz was born in Berlin in December 1919. Highlights of his youth included his violin studies and summers spent with his family in the Alps. These two passions ” his love of classical music and his abiding connection to the mountains ” would remain with him throughout his life, and neither would ever be far from him.
Fritz emigrated to the United States in 1951, living initially on the East Coast, where he met his wife, Erika Jaeger, whom he married in 1953. A succession of jobs brought the two to Colorado, where Fritz and Erika opened their first retail store, Sporthaus Lindner, in Estes Park in the summer of 1963. Bringing his love of classic alpinist climbing to this Rocky Mountain community, the Estes Park store offered its clients early exposure to technical climbing through a climbing school with classically trained instructors from the Italian and Swiss Alps.
The following winter, Fritz came to Aspen, where he and Erika opened Sporthaus Lindner on the corner of Mill and Hyman. Sporthaus Lindner would go on to become one of the standard bearers for ski retail in Aspen, and in 1972-73, Fritz was named Retailer of the Year for the Western Region by the Ski Institute of America. In 1976, a final retail location was opened in Houston.
According to Ruby Lindner, Fritz’s daughter, he was the consummate entrepreneur, always thinking of ways to grow and improve the business. “But his success was as much a reflection of what mom brought to the undertaking,” she said. “The two of them formed the ideal business partnership, each augmenting each other’s strengths and providing a supportive buffer for each other’s blind spots.”
After retiring in 1985, Fritz enjoyed a rich and varied new chapter in his life, traveling extensively throughout Europe, taking part in three extended trekking expeditions in the Himalayas, becoming an accomplished gourmet chef, taking up boating, and exploring the western United States, Canada and Alaska in his RV.
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Possessed of a keen intellect and an abundance of charm and humor, Fritz could strike up a conversation with anyone and instantly become a welcomed companion. He was an athlete, an adventurer, and a bit of a rogue who lived every moment with passionate intensity. Above all else, he valued honesty and integrity, and he was always principled and straightforward in his dealings with everyone he encountered.
Fritz’s ashes were spread, in accordance with his wishes, on Mount Jefferson in central Oregon on Aug. 22. He is survived by his wife, his daughter and his son-in-law, Jeff Sloan.