Snowmass Village pioneer, icon Dick Moebius celebrates 90 | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass Village pioneer, icon Dick Moebius celebrates 90

As Dick Moebius gears up to celebrate 90 years, his family and the community are looking back on the decorated legacy of a bold visionary who helped shape Snowmass Village.

Dick's pioneering spirit led him, his late wife, Barb, their four children and the family cat from San Diego to Snowmass in 1967 prior to the ski area's opening.

A Los Angeles native and former IBM salesman, Dick uprooted his family at the opportunity to build and manage the slopeside Silvertree Hotel, despite lacking any experience in hotels.

"He just had an ability to see things that had potential that most people either could not see or did not want to take the risk," Mark Moebius said of his father. "He was a risk-taker, and it played well for him. And he still is at 90 years old. Don't get me wrong. Nothing's changed."

Hours removed from a two-week vacation around the cape of Africa, Dick chatted with the Sun on Snowmass life as well as the ski area's development and memorable opening.

Opening the lodge, and the resort as whole was a chaotic, deadline-driven blur that required the efforts of an entire village, Dick said, and especially those of his family.

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"We were still putting carpet down and making beds as (guests) were arriving," said Dick, who turns 90 on Monday.

Mark, who was 13 at the time, remembers hauling scraps of carpet and cleaning the bedrooms before go-time amid an "all hands on deck" situation.

Compounding the pressure was news that John Cooley, who marketed Snowmass at the time, had invited 130 journalists and travel writers for comped visits.

Against all odds and to the credit of the Moebius family, Dick said, the Silvertree opened on time and hosted Snowmass' first lodging guests.

Further, guests who booked at other properties that were not able to open the doors by opening day turned to the Silvertree for accommodations.

"We all worked hard, and I think our family grew closer as a result," Dick said in the "Story of Snowmass" book. "We didn't know whether Snowmass was going to be successful or not, so the whole thing was a gamble. But we were so busy that first year that we really didn't have too much time to think about it."

Dick was so occupied running the hotel that he only skied seven times that first season, despite the Silvertree's unparalleled ski-in, ski-out location.

"It wasn't even enough to make my (season ski) pass pay for itself," Dick quipped. "But it was a good year overall because we were full most of the time."

Despite the long days spent inside the Silvertree — sometimes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — Dick, when at all possible, and his family loved to be on the hill.

When asked what separates Snowmass from other ski resorts, Dick said unequivocally, "There's no question — it's the skiing."

While the family also felt at home near the beach and continued to spend time in San Diego in years to come, the Moebius clan fully embraced mountain life, Dick said.

Growing up in rural Snowmass Village in the late '60s and '70s meant skiing a lot and knowing your neighbors, said Mark, who later followed his father's footsteps in the hotel business.

"He was a role model. In my business life, I always reflected back on what dad would do," Mark said. "He was a handshake kind of guy. If he shook someone's hand, it was a deal. And he followed through."

Over the decades, Dick played integral roles in the development of several high-profile properties throughout Snowmass Village, including El Dorado Lodge, Crestwood Condominiums, Snowmass Inn, Pokolodi Lodge, Meadow Ranch and Homestead condos.

Along with being with a progressive and opportunistic businessman, Dick is "the kindest, most generous" father, said Kristen Lassalette, the youngest of the Moebius children.

His relationship with their mother, Barb, also was filled with love and further cemented the family's ties within the Snowmass community.

After all, Barb was known to many, and not only her children, in Snowmass Village and at the Aspen schools as "Mother Moebius."

Barb and Dick met and fell in love while in college at San Diego State University. The two remained together — even after Dick was drafted to serve in the Korean War at the end of his senior year in college — for nearly six decades. Barb died in San Diego, where she was born and grew up, in March 2011.

In contemplating what her father's legacy means in Snowmass, and the opportunity to honor him more than half a century later, Kristen grew teary-eyed.

"I would say, if anything, I'm proud to be his daughter," Kristen said, "to be known as Dick Moebius' daughter, because of everything he stands for."

Asked what he is most proud of over his more than 50 years in Snowmass Village, Dick didn't miss a beat: "That we started something from nothing."

erobbie@aspentimes.com

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