WINTER PARK — The Winter Park Fraser Chamber of Commerce named Hans and Hanne Eichler, the former owners of the Gasthaus Eichler, the Pioneers of the Year this year after the couple has called the Fraser Valley home for nearly 50 years.
The German nationals moved to the Denver area in 1963 from Canada before making the move to the Fraser Valley.
The couple made the move to the Fraser Valley from the Denver area in 1965 in order for Hans to pursue work as a mason, something that kept them afloat over the years according to Hanne.
The couple operated a number of businesses before opening the Gasthaus in what is now Ullr’s Tavern in 1980. They moved the business to the location across the street from Hideaway Park in 1987.
The couple recently sold the business to Devil’s Thumb Ranch to begin their retirement. Hans and Hanne are now fully retired at the ages of 77 and 74, and now escape the long Fraser Valley winters in Tuscon, Ariz. Though the couple travels back to the valley in the summers.
When the Eichlers first moved to the valley there were only a small number of businesses that made up the town of Winter Park.
“It was very hard to make a living,” Hanne said. “But we liked the area so much we just stuck around.”
“Hans’s masonry always made us a good living,” Hanne said. “He was very good at it.”
Over the year’s, the Eichlers hosted a number of celebrities at the hotel including Betty White, who used to come skiing in the valley with her friends every year, according to Hanne.
Hanne also recalled hosting Clint Eastwood and William Shatner, who was famous at the time for his role in Star Trek as Captain Kirk.
Though many faces passed through the doors of the Gasthaus, the Eichlers cherished those of locals the most.
“We thank all of the locals for their support and friendships,” Hanne said.
Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334