Obituary: John Sehnal | AspenTimes.com
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Obituary: John Sehnal

John Sehnal October 2, 1932 – April 26, 2020

In loving memory. John M Sehnal was born on October 2, 1932 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. A man of great intellect and aspiration, he excelled at school and was a voracious reader that dreamed of opportunities to make a better life. John graduated university with a degree in mechanical engineering, but due to limitations on advancement imposed by the government, he was only able to take work in entry level manufacturing.

In a heroic leap of faith, John and a friend set out on a state sponsored trip to East Berlin with the intentions of defecting from communist rule to the free world. John and his friend made plans with two ladies, posing as couples, to stroll across a bridge with no personal belongings, under the watchful eye of the armed guards. John and his partner saw a window, the guards were not looking and made a run for the West Berlin line, and made their escape from the communist regime on July 20, 1960. The woman he partnered with would soon become his wife, and would not again be separated until now. Her name is Hannah.

John and Hannah lived in refugee camps for a year until a letter he wrote to an acquaintance was returned with a sponsorship opportunity to immigrate to the United States in November of 1961. Hannah came in December and their life began again in Los Angeles, Ca. John took a job with Baker Oil, later Baker Hughes where he worked the graveyard shift for 20 years moving to Orange County a short time into that tenure. John and Hannah made their final move to Aspen in 1988 after their only daughter Jennifer said, I’m never leaving and I think you should move here; you will love it!

John took a job with Aspen Skiing Co and quickly made his way to ski tuning. It was the best job he ever had, in his words. He loved the fine details and meticulous nature of hand tuning, and quickly became recognized earning many repeat clients from Ski Co executives to movie stars, and he was very proud. He loved Aspen Skiing Co and earned his 20 year pin, only retiring by doctors orders as he was creeping up on 80 years old. He loved the culture of skiing, and if you asked what he liked about skiing, he would say “I love to haul ass!”

John is survived by his wife, Hannah Sehnal; his sister in Prague, Helena Sehnalova; his daughter, Jennifer Yaeger; son-in-law, Ben Yaeger; and granddaughter Kaitlyn Yaeger. He asked to be spread on the mountain tops in Aspen as a final resting place. His death was not COVID related. His passing has left a huge hole in our hearts, but the memory of his warm smile is a comfort to us all.


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