Obituary: Bill Gaechter |

Obituary: Bill Gaechter

Bill Gaechter
Bill Gaechter
Provided Photo

April 10, 1942 – August 26, 2021

Bill Gaechter passed away on August 26th, 2021. Bill had many great years prior to the onset of Alzheimer’s during which he lived his life with an admirable combination of humor, family, fun, hard work, and responsibility.

Bill was born in Santa Monica, California to Mickey and Rudy Gaechter. He was the 3rd in line out of four boys in his family—Tony, Mike, and Mark. Bill graduated from Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster, CA and went on to play football at The University of Nevada at Reno where he met Ann Willis. Bill and Ann were married in Winnemucca Nevada in 1966 and they began a lifetime of adventures. These journeys would take them to the backcountry of Idaho, the ski mountains of the West, the business world of the ski industry, and to raising two daughters—Darcy and Lacey—in Aspen.

Bill started his post-college career as a ski patrolman at June Mountain in California, then moved to Aspen Highlands in Colorado. During the off-season, he was a hunting guide at the Flying B Ranch in Idaho. He transitioned into being a sales rep for various ski companies, and he and Ann eventually started their own ski clothing company called Sport U.S.A., maker of Boulder Gear. Bill had a vision that quality ski clothing could be made more affordably, and he wanted to make good gear accessible to more people. Since he was color blind, Ann helped with the design work and a long-lasting working partnership was born.

Throughout Bill’s 40’s and 50’s life revolved around the ski business, innumerable trips to Europe and Asia for work, managing the Gaechters’ hobby ranch in Woody Creek, and parenting. From teaching the girls to swim as toddlers to supporting their unique professional endeavors in adulthood, Bill instilled in his daughters a love of adventure and the value of pursuing passion-driven careers. Bill took future whitewater kayaking guide, Darcy, on her first self-guided (and certainly exciting!) trip down the Roaring Fork River. Darcy later took Ann and Bill on exploratory trips to Ecuador and Bhutan, and on rafting trips down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Bill and Lacey worked on the ranch together, gardened, and explored the natural world, laying the foundation for her career in public health, focusing on food systems and the environment. His love of adventure, the outdoors, and his career never precluded Bill’s love for people, especially his family.

Bill retired from Boulder Gear in 2004 after decades of building his company with Ann, an amazing staff, and a wonderful business partner who all became part of the family. He dove right into other projects—hiking, horse-back riding, working outside on the irrigation, the field, or any other jobs that needed tackling. He also took many hunting and fishing trips with his brothers, his friends, and his in-laws, John and Loyal Willis. Through these trips Bill not only forged strong relationships with friends and family, but also with the natural world.

We will remember Bill for his kind nature and his sense of humor as well as for his admirable ability to be present, his work ethic, and his passion for life. Even though Bill had a strong thirst for adventure and excitement, he was also very good at finding happiness and joy in life’s everyday moments. He could be just as happy planting flowers in the garden with Ann or sitting on the couch with his dog as he was doing backflips on his skis at Aspen Highlands. That he could bask in it all was a true gift.

Bill was preceded in death most recently by his nephew Chase, brother Mike, and his in-laws Barb and Loyal Willis. He compassionately supported his loved ones in their transitions from life to death, and those he leaves behind tried to do the same for him. Bill is survived by his wife, Ann, daughters Darcy and Lacey, brothers Tony and Mark, and his sister in-laws, nieces and nephews.

Ann, Darcy and Lacey will hold a memorial for Bill in the spring of 2022. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Bill’s honor to any of the following organizations, all of which touched Bill’s life:

Alzheimer’s Association,

HomeCare & Hospice of the Valley,

National Park Foundation,

Ecuadorian Rivers Institute,

Northern Colorado Wildlife Center,

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