Sepp Kessler |

Sepp Kessler

Sepp Kessler died on April 23, 2009, at the age of 95 in Heritage Park in Carbondale after a long and happy life in Aspen as a Bavarian cowboy and popular ski instructor. Sepp was a well-known Aspen personality, and before moving to Carbondale he was often seen pedaling his bike around town with a cheery wave to all his many friends.

Sepp was born in Goppingen, Germany, in 1914. In the Second World War he served in the Gebirgsjager, a crack ski troop of the German army, and after the war he worked for the Third U.S. Army, managing a mountain hut used by American soldiers.

During his time at the hut, Sepp met and taught skiing to William Sloane Coffin, author, chaplain at Yale and later to become famous for his stand against the Vietnam War and segregation. One of Coffin’s books, “Once to Every Man, a memoir,” talks about his friendship with and admiration for Sepp.

Sepp also loaned money at this time to an American officer, Karl Boehm, whose family later sponsored Sepp’s immigration to the United States in the fall of 1953. He first went to Estes Park to join Karl in a business venture and then came to Aspen to visit his friend Tony Woerndle. He decided to stay in Aspen, and Friedl Pfeifer hired Sepp as a ski instructor shortly after that; he continued to teach skiing until he was 75.

Around 1955 Sepp purchased two lots on Durant Avenue from Walter Paepcke for $500 and built a log cabin on the site where the Kessler Apartments are now located.

In 1957 he met and shortly after married Jane, his wife of 52 years.

Sepp was instrumental in introducing the Trentaz family to Edgar Stern, who then purchased the Trentaz ranch and developed it as Starwood. Sepp and Jane built a house there, and Sepp loved his life running the Starwood ranch.

Sepp is survived by his wife, Jane, of Aspen, and his daughter, Kerstin, his granddaughter, Verena, and extended family in Germany. A gathering in Sepp’s memory will be held at a later date.

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