Chamber honors Winter Park ‘pioneers’ |

Chamber honors Winter Park ‘pioneers’

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

Joyce and George Engel have never thought of themselves as pioneers. But those who know them understand why they were honored with the inaugural Pioneer Award by the Winter Park/Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Their list of “firsts” is extensive.

George was the first paid ski patroller at Winter Park Resort in 1945. He was the founder and first president of the Rocky Mountain Ski Instructors Association, and helped form the Eskimo Center, the Winter Park Handicap Program, Pole Creek Golf Course and the Winter Park Ski Shop.

Joyce helped run the ski shop with George in 1951, and along with Bob Temple helped start the Winter Park Horseman’s Association and High Country Stampede in 1982, which she is still actively involved in today. She started a cancer survivors group, was a member of the chamber board, and served on the original board for the Community Concert Series, of which she is currently president.

The Engels didn’t just sit back and watch their community grow ” they played a vital role in making things happen. And yet when you ask them why they believe they received the Pioneer Award, they simply shrug their shoulders. Their way of life reflects an uncomplicated thought: to leave things a little better than they were before.

“When the girls were little, we camped out a lot,” Joyce said as she sat at her kitchen table across from her husband. “We camped at the Mary Jane ski area, and a lot of places at Winter Park (Resort). Our philosophy was always to leave the campground a little better than we found it.”

George and Joyce arrived in Winter Park in 1945 and 1951 respectively; they met through mutual friends, fell in love, and married six months later after George proposed in front of what is now known as Deno’s Mountain Bistro. Winter Park was known as Hideaway Park back then, and the town was just a filing station, a restaurant and a couple of bars, George said. That’s also part of the reason why the Engels helped start so many programs.

“We wanted our community to have all the things it should have,” George said.

The Engels’ daughters, Wendy and Janet, were born and raised in Grand County and continue to live here today. The holidays are always a family affair, with children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends. For Thanksgiving this year, Joyce was getting ready to cook for 18 people. She had a 22-pound bird ready to stuff, season and cook.

Most women would be nervous about cooking for such a large group of people, but Joyce is a master. Back when she and George owned the ski shop at the base of Winter Park Resort, every holiday was spent with family and employees who were away from their families.

“We always had a bunch,” Joyce said, smiling.

“That’s why we have this big table,” George added, his hands pointing to the large, wooden table in front of their kitchen window, which overlooks the Continental Divide. The Engels had their home built so that it also faces the Winter Park ski area, and on a clear day, they could probably point out the run that was named after them ” Engeldive.

The Engels love the mountains; that’s why their prize for receiving the Pioneer Award ” a Karen Vance giclee of a view from the Divide that looks over the Moffat Road train trestle and the ski area ” is such a treasure. It is their first Karen Vance painting, and receiving it from Vance at the Chamber dinner was a true “golden moment,” Joyce said. The couple was delighted, she added.

“We love the trestle. It’s a special trip, at least once every summer,” she added. “We used to take our grandkids up there. It’s really special.”

The Engels were the first recipients of the Pioneer Award, created by the chamber to recognize individuals who are influential in the community.

Catherine Ross, executive director for the chamber, said the community is in debt to the Engels.

“It seems to me like they pretty much started everything,” she said. “And they continue to have a vision for the community. It’s because of that vision that we’re here and as successful as we are.”

” To reach Stephanie Miller, call (970) 887-3334, ext. 19601 or e-mail

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