Jack de Pagter
Creator of Winterskol, founding member Mountain Rescue Aspen, ski lodge owner.
Jack de Pagter went on his next adventure on Sunday May 22, 2016. He was 2 months shy of his 93rd birthday; and just 5 weeks after his wife Anneke passed on.
Jack lived on amazing life.
Born in Vlissingen the Netherland, Jack spent most of his childhood in the Hague. His fondest memory was riding his bicycle with his brother Piet to the 1937 Boy Scout World Jamboree in Bloemendaal Netherlands. This would begin a life long love of traveling via bicycle; he would continue this through his 80’s.
When Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands Jack escaped to France he was 19. Jack joined the French resistance. When the Americans landed in Normandy Jack joined the American forces in Patton’s 3rd Army, as a translator; he spoke 4 languages. They made him a first lieutenant and taught him to drive. Jack would then be stationed in Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany, again as a translator. Jack fell in love with the mountains, climbing and skiing.
Jack then attended hotel school in Switzerland, and became reacquainted with childhood friend Anneke, also working in hotel school there. Jack knew he wanted to start a ski lodge but his prospects were limited in Europe, he heard that there were two up and coming ski resorts in the United States: Sun Valley and Aspen. He wrote to the chamber of commerce at each resort looking for a job, he got just one response, from the Hotel Jerome in Aspen; they needed front desk clerk. Jack was off to Aspen: it was 1949.
Late getting to his job, and with only $7 left, to his dismay: the job had been taken. They did need a bartender. Jack would tend bar at the Jerome and Red Onion for the next 10 years. In the early 1950s January was a very quite time. In the hopes of drumming up some more tourism Jack came up with the idea of a winter carnival. He named the carnival “Winterskol.” He was the chair of Winterskol for many years encouraging everyone to be in the Parade, and ski in the torchlight decent.
Jack saved his money and bought an old house next to ski lift #1, soon he was renting rooms. He called it the Holland House. Jack returned to the Netherlands in 1952 to marry Anneke and together they created their 15 room ski lodge on the parcel south of the “old house” then moving the “old house” in 1962 to Castle Creek and built an addition 15 rooms on that parcel. In 1983 day to day operation were taken over by family. Jack and Anneke remained involved as host and hostess at the ski lodge. Attending weekly wine and cheese parties, ski movie night, ski picnic day at the Highlands. Jack had his famous yodel “Ya hoop ta dee” to gather everyone for a group ski run. It was all great fun. The Holland House was sold in 2006.
Jack Mountain climbed extensively in the Aspen area. Jack was a founding member of Mountain Rescue Aspen. Often Jack would arrive home after a climb, only to have the phone ring that there was a rescue, thus having to reclimb the fourteener he just descended. He was a member of Mountain Rescue for 35 years.
Jack was the President of the Colorado Mountain Club Aspen Chapter for 44 years: he enjoyed sharing his love of hikes and climbs with others. His favorite climb was Pyramid Peak, which he climbed over 30 times. He was a vocal advocate for the Maroon Bells – Snowmass wilderness designation.
An accomplished artist, he painted in oil. Studying in France, San Miguel de Allende and Santa Fe. One of his paintings hangs in the town hall of Chamonix, a gift from the Aspen sister cities program, which Jack was involved in.
Jack was inducted into the Aspen Hall of Fame in 1997.
He loved mountains, wild flowers, animals, and nature, bicycle riding and travel. Jack loved driving his 1968 VW camper van to Mexico with the Holland House staff. He loved the French.
Jack wrote a book about his World War 11 experience titled Destination Aspen. His favorite outfit was sorrels, shorts, and a fish net T-shirt: worn together.
He is survived by his daughter Yasmine and son in-law Jack Simmons, numerous nieces and nephews and countless friends around the world.
In lieu of flowers a donation may be made to Mountain Rescue Aspen. A celebration of his 93rd birthday will be held in mid July details to follow.
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