Obituary: Al Dietsch
December 12, 1931 – February 28, 2022
On February 28th, 2022, longtime Aspen resident Alfred John Dietsch (Al), passed away in Denver, CO, at the age of ninety. Loving husband, brother, father, lawyer, entrepreneur, and respected philanthropist, Al was a demonstrative contributor to the community. He was a board member and Chair of the Aspen Music Festival and School for more than ten years, and is a Life Trustee. As Chair of the capital campaign for Aspen Center for Environmental Studies he raised millions of dollars for ACES, served as Chair of the Aspen Institute Community Forum, and was also a Chair and on the board of many other local, state and national organizations.
While Al has often been recognized publicly for his business acumen and community service, it is the love of his wife and family that defines him best. As a father, he endured the painful losses of both his youngest and oldest sons. His recovery from each loss was remarkable and became the impetus for him to spend more time with family and friends. From the moment he met his wife-to-be in college, Germaine Kresser became the love of his life and his commitment to her remained, undying, for more than 68 years.
Al was born in Seattle, Washington, then moved to Los Angeles, California, where he lettered in football and graduated at the top of his class at Montebello High School (Class of ‘49). Upon securing a four-year NROTC military scholarship, he attended University of California, Berkeley, where he became president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1953. Al was stationed on the USS Boxer, an attack aircraft carrier, during combat in the Korean War, and eventually became a Junior Officer with Top Secret security clearance at the Navy base in Coronado California. In 1955, he married Germaine and two years later the couple moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Al attended Harvard Law School (class of 1959). Settling in the West Los Angeles area, then moving to Greenwich Connecticut and back, Germaine raised a family of four while Al worked his way up through the D.K. Ludwig Group to become part of their senior management team. In the late seventies, Al became a commercial real estate developer and co-founded Chandelle Properties in Denver. In the early eighties, he and Germaine acquired a second home in the West End before retiring in the dream house they built off seventh street on Castle Creek.
As Chair of the Colorado storytelling organization that Germaine founded, Al helped Spellbinders serve more than a million students in elementary school. One of Al’s favorite things in life was telling King Arthur stories to grammar school students, an opportunity that Spellbinders still offers to its trained volunteers today.
As hard as Al worked, he also loved to play, adventuring into the outdoors whenever he could: climbing and hiking dozens of formidable peaks including Mt Whitney, Mt Shasta and Mt Rainer; competing in numerous marathons; earning a pilot’s license to fly his family to ski areas where he clocked as much vertical as possible; fly fishing, skiing, biking, traveling and taking safaris with his wife, friends and family to places all over the world, and for a time volunteering as a ski ambassador on Aspen Mountain. After a hard day of playing in the outdoors, Al loved spending time relaxing with friends and family while playing dominoes and enjoying a glass of good scotch at the home he and Germaine eventually built on the Roaring Fork in Little Texas.
In the waning years, Al and Germaine—who passed just four months before him—remained inseparable. They are undoubtedly together again and will remain in our hearts forever.
Al is survived by his sisters Barbara (Walt) Mason of Atascadero, CA, and Charlo Mann Rautly of Seal Beach, CA, as well as their extended families; his children, John (Mollie) Dietsch of Pacific Palisades, CA, and Gretchen Calhoun (Neil Karbank of Kansas City and Rick Calhoun of Denver), his five grandchildren and a great grandchild. He is predeceased by his sons Kresser (1993) and Paul (1972).
In honor of Al and Germaine’s dedication and service to the community, the Aspen Music Festival and School has established The Al and Germaine Dietsch Memorial Scholarship Fund. Contributions may be sent to the AMFS at 225 Music School Road, Aspen, CO 81611 or made by phone at 970-205-5061. A service will be held at Aspen Chapel for both Al and Germaine on July 16th at 11 AM followed by a private reception.
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