Klaus celebrates 95th birthday with a yodel | AspenTimes.com

Klaus celebrates 95th birthday with a yodel

Staff report

Rupert Oberlohr, playing the accordion, John Dunn on guitar and Jeannie Walla, right, flank Klaus Obermeyer while singing and yodeling to Bavarian songs. Not visible in the background is former Aspenite Hans Rieger, playing a zither. They celebrated Obermeyer's 95th birthday.

Aspen icon Klaus Obermeyer celebrated his 95th birthday Tuesday with a little help from his friends.

Obermeyer sang and yodeled with a Bavarian oompah band that entertained a crowd of about 50 well-wishers at the Aspen Business Center headquarters of Sport Obermeyer, the ski-wear company Obermeyer founded in 1947. The crowd also was treated to apple strudel and whipped cream.

Accordion player Rupert Oberlohr, guitar player John Dunn, both from Vail, and zither player Hans Rieger, formerly of Aspen, kept a constant stream of polkas and other songs going throughout an hour of celebration. The zither is a stringed instrument played horizontally like a slide guitar. Its strings are the same length as its soundboard.

Oberlohr said he and Dunn met Obermeyer years ago when they performed at the Wienerstube, an Aspen restaurant that's no longer in business. "Klaus is my idol," Oberlohr told the crowd.

Rieger, now of Grand Junction, befriended Obermeyer during his nearly 25 years as a lodge operator in Aspen. He owned and operated the Alpine House from 1966 to 1989.

The band's appearance was a birthday surprise for Obermeyer. His friends arranged to bring in the musicians.

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Obermeyer greeted every guest with his signature smile and, usually, a quip. He said his health is good and he comes to the office every weekday.

Obermeyer arrived in Aspen in 1947 and went to work for the ski school. He made an educated guess that he could retain business if he could ensure that skiers stayed warm and dry. He created a down ski parka from a goose-down comforter. The company bearing his name has been making innovations in the industry ever since.

Obermeyer said the season started with a bang for the ski-wear business because winter made an early entry to most parts of the country, he said. In addition, retailers had very little carry-over merchandise from last winter because sales were so solid.

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