Obituary: John Wilhelms
December 27, 1950 – January 13, 2022
John Maynard Wilhelms’ spirit was released on January 13, 2022. A longtime Summit County resident, John’s infectious love for life and radiating optimism will forever live on in the hundreds of people he touched during his journey among us.
John was born December 27, 1950 in Red Oak, Iowa, to Betty and Meno Wilhelms, the second of four children. The family migrated to California shortly after his birth. John inherited his love of the outdoors from his father with whom he explored the mountains of California. This motivated him to join the Boy Scouts achieving the top rank of Eagle. He later shared the adventure with his son Ross serving as an adult leader and Scoutmaster in the Denver area. When John was 13, he received a surfboard for his birthday. From then on, his life was dominated by a love of the ocean and the mountains.
John graduated from Mission Bay High School, San Diego, in 1969, where he was an avid water-skier and could be found on the waves from Ocean Beach to La Jolla.
He graduated in 1973 from the University of California, Santa Barbara (Business Economics), chosen primarily for its reputation as a surf haven. His freshman year was interrupted by a journey with friends in a Volkswagen van from San Diego to Ecuador and Peru for which (as a selling point to his parents) he managed to receive college class credit.
Following graduation, John traveled the US helping a friend set up a distribution business for beach and surf wear. Along the way he spent a year promoting and distributing feature-length surf films in Hawaii and California. This led to a six-month journey with his brother showing surfing films in the mountain towns and universities of Utah and Colorado.
Returning to California, John became a real estate broker. But the mountains called to him, and in 1979 he moved to Colorado to become a commercial real estate appraiser. After earning his Master Appraiser Institute (MAI) designation, he built a business specializing in evaluation of resort properties. His clientele included some of the best-known resorts in the mountain and ocean areas of the continental United States, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean.
In 2001, John moved to Summit County where he taught his clients the meaning of “powder days.” For 15 years he lived (as he put it) “right next to the slope” in Copper Mountain and was proud of skiing or mountain biking two hours every day. The mountains and the ocean were the cornerstone of his love of the outdoors…but his true passions were his family and the many friends he made in the Summit County skiing and biking communities.
John was active with the Summit Mountain Biking group and the local ski community at Copper Mountain. If you couldn’t reach John or his partner Aleda, they were likely on their way to Moab, usually with friends.
In 2019, John was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. Like everything else he did, he attacked it with grace, energy and optimism. He continued to live his life, sharing his experience with those close to him. His final gift to us was his example of courage, passion and love.
John was preceded in death by his son Ross. He leaves behind his daughter, Jolene Wilhelms, his partner in life Aleda Kresge, sister Pamela Wilhelms, and brothers Tom Wilhelms and Larry Wilhelms – and hundreds of people whose lives he touched along the way.
To remember John, donations can made in his name to SCOMBA scomba.org mountain biking group, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District fdrd.org or simply smile and hug someone and remember this quiet but truly compassionate man.
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