Former local judge, consultant Daniel Wiegner dies at age 79
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Former Aspenite Daniel F. Wiegner, a onetime local judge, property manager, developer and architectural consultant, died last week in Grand Junction after a short illness. He was 79.
Wiegner made a name for himself in the early ?60s when, upon his move to Aspen, he either established or took over management for several popular restaurants and hotels. A graduate of both Cornell and Columbia universities ? he was a dual major in architecture and hotel/restaurant administration ? Wiegner kicked off his local career by taking over the management of the Smuggler Inn and its adjoining Little Calico Kitchen. In 1965, he designed and built the Pomegranate Inn where the Pitkin County Rodeo Grounds once stood, said Wiegner’s son, Roger.
Wiegner’s career changed drastically in 1967 when he accepted a one-year term as Aspen’s lone judge. Roger Wiegner said his father oversaw every local case in his short time on the bench.
“He was the only judge in town. [He presided over] anything, whether it was parking tickets, or when cooks from Guido’s were streaking through the mall nude one time, and he had to sentence them to community service,” Roger Wiegner laughed.
He left law after his single judicial term and returned to hotel and restaurant management. From 1967 to 1970, Wiegner was tapped for his architectural expertise on the formation of Snowmass Village. He also consulted on the Aspen Alps Condominiums. His advice on both construction endeavors greatly affected the shape of the Roaring Fork Valley today, Roger Wiegner said.
Wiegner found another large project in 1970 when he took over management of Aspen Meadows.
“He managed all 56 houses around Aspen for Robert O. Anderson,” the chairman of Aspen Meadows, Roger Wiegner said. Anderson was believed to be the largest landowner in the United States during that time, he said.
In 1974, Wiegner renovated the ailing Aspen Country Club and created the Plum Tree Inn. Four years later, he left Aspen for development prospects downvalley and opened a restaurant in El Jebel. Wiegner’s at Old Orchard was built not far from what became the town’s City Market.
“It had a big following from Aspen,” Roger Wiegner said.
His last local project came in 1982 when he supervised the renovation of the Redstone Inn. He left the valley for Battlement Mesa in 1993, where he was able to indulge in one of his favorite hobbies ? he opened the Little Pomegranate Gift Shop, an antique store that boasted a collection culled from decades of shopping trips.
He retired in early 1999 and enjoyed tracing his family lineage back to 15th-century Germany.
Wiegner’s family ? his former wife, Mary; his children Roger, Harriet, Johanna and Turk; and his eight grandchildren ? held a memorial service in his honor late last week.
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