Obituary: Bill Gaechter |


Bill gaechter
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April 10, 1942 – August 26, 2021

Bill Gaechter passed away on August 26, 2021. Prior to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, Bill lived many years in 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 third of four boys in his family: Tony, Mike and Mark. Bill graduated from Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster, Calif., And went on to play football at the University of Nevada in Reno, where he met Ann Willis. Bill and Ann were married in Winnemucca Nevada in 1966 and they began a life of adventure. These trips would take them to the backcountry of Idaho, the ski mountains of the West, the business world of the ski industry, and ultimately to raise two daughters – Darcy and Lacey – in Aspen.

Bill began his post-graduate career as a ski patroller at June Mountain, California, then moved to Aspen Highlands, Colorado. During the off-season, he was a hunting guide at the Flying B Ranch in Idaho. He became a sales representative for various ski companies, and he and Ann eventually started their own ski clothing business called Sport USA, maker of Boulder Gear. Bill had a vision that quality ski clothing could be made more affordably, and he wanted to make the right equipment available to more people. As he was color blind, Ann helped with the design work and a long lasting working partnership was born.

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s Bill’s life revolved around skiing, countless trips to Europe and Asia for work, running the Gaechters Recreational Ranch in Woody Creek, and parenting. From teaching girls to swim at an early age or supporting their unique professional endeavors as adults, Bill has instilled in his daughters a love of adventure and the value of pursuing passionate careers. Bill took future whitewater kayaking guide Darcy on his first self-guided (and certainly thrilling!) Excursion on the Roaring Fork River. Darcy then took Ann and Bill on exploration trips to Ecuador and Bhutan, and rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Bill and Lacey worked together at the ranch, gardening and exploring the natural world, laying the foundations for his career in public health, focusing on food systems and the environment. His love of adventure, the outdoors and his career never ruled out Bill’s love for people, especially his family.

Bill retired from Boulder Gear in 2004 after decades of building his business with Ann, amazing staff and a great business partner who are all family. He immersed himself directly in other projects – hiking, horseback riding, working outdoors on irrigation ditches, the field or any other work to be undertaken. He also made numerous hunting and fishing trips with his brothers, friends and in-laws, John and Loyal Willis. Through these trips, Bill not only forged strong relationships with his friends and family, but also with the natural world.

Bill will be remembered for his kind nature and sense of humor as well as for his admirable attendance, work ethic and 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 the everyday moments of life. He might 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 in Aspen Highlands. That he could take advantage of all of this was a real gift.

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

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

Alzheimer Association,

Home care & Hospice de la Vallée,

Foundation of the National Park,

Ecuadorian Institute of Rivers,

Northern Colorado Wildlife Center,


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