He will be remembered for his sensitive nature, love of skiing and adventure, orderly habits and household administration, and devotion to his wife and seven children.
He was born in Denver to George and Augusta (Wall) Gleason but soon moved to Pueblo, his mother’s hometown, where his family was well known and regarded. His father co-founded the Colorado Potato Flake Company and Red Seal Potato Chips.
He graduated from Centennial High School in Pueblo and attended Colorado School of Mines before serving in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946, where he was trained in aviation electronics. In 1948, George earned his engineering degree from Denver University. He was a member of the National Honor Society and the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
George worked for the Martin Company in Denver and Ball Brothers Research Corporation in Boulder. His work included development of the Titan Rocket, instrument design and mission control for the Apollo space program, and design of the mounting telescope and coronagraph for Skylab. He retired from Ball Brothers in 1984.
In high school George read an article about Sun Valley in Life Magazine and was determined to try out skiing. Then an uncle gave him $25 for Christmas. At a Pueblo hardware store he purchased leather boots, cable bindings and seven-foot hickory skis. He drove with a friend to Rye, climbed a hill, and learned by trial.
While attending the School of Mines in Golden, he met a DU student who was working as a soda jerk at Foss Drug. On one of their first dates, George took Mary Jean Anthony skiing at Berthoud ski area, an activity that would knit together generations of the family for decades to come. After his draft notice arrived, a wedding was quickly arranged. On December 29, 1943, the couple wed at St. Dominic’s Church in Denver.
In 1961 he built a ski cabin near the base of Aspen Mountain. For 25 years the family journeyed over the mountain passes every other weekend in winter to ski, usually joined by houseguests. In retirement the couple moved to Aspen. The home served as a base for their travels and a popular meeting place for the family.
George launched ski programs at the parochial schools of Sts. Peter and Paul in Denver and Sacred Heart of Mary in Boulder. In Aspen he originated programs for active seniors at the Aspen Senior Center, including a ski program. He convinced the Aspen Skiing Company for a time to offer skiers over age 70 free ski passes.
Besides skiing, he enjoyed hiking, sailing, tennis, and golf. Music was an important part of his life as well; he played the clarinet and saxophone, sang in the church choir, and for many years hosted a weekly Big Band radio show for KAJX radio station in Aspen. In their retirement, George and Mary traveled extensively in their motor home and to Elderhostels across the U.S. and abroad.
George was honored for his service to Pitkin County seniors and the Rocky Mountain Senior Games. In Aspen, the couple served as Winterskol king and queen, and December 29 is George and Mary Gleason Day by proclamation of the mayor.
George was a member of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic churches in Boulder and Saint Mary’s catholic church in Aspen. He was an active member of the Elks Club.
George Gleason skied until he was 82 years old. In 2005, the couple sold the beloved “cabin in Aspen” after 45 years and moved to a Boulder retirement community.
George was preceded in death by his wife, his parents and sisters Augusta Peaker and Eleanor Schooley. He is survived by sons Jim Gleason of South Bend, Ind., Bob Gleason of Telluride, Patrick Gleason of Alma, and Gary Gleason of Aspen; daughters Judy Wright of Littleton, Nancy Warren of Golden and Marilyn Gleason of New Castle; and 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial Mass was held Wed. at Saint Mary’s Church in Aspen. George and Mary Jean’s ashes will be interred together later this year at the Elks Cemetery. A reception for friends and family at the Boulder Meridian will take place on Jan. 16 at 11:30 a.m. at 801 Gillaspie in Boulder.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to HospiceCare of Boulder and Broomfield Counties, 2594 Trailridge Drive East, Lafayette, CO 80026 or http://hospicecareonline.org/. Visit www.ahlbergfuneralchapel.com to share condolences.