John Fetcher praised before Congress

US Rep. John Salazar reads tribute to House of Representatives

— The family of John R. Fetcher tentatively is planning a celebration of his life for early March.

Fetcher died Feb. 6 at Yampa Valley Medical Center. He was 97. Fetcher was known throughout Colorado as a builder of ski areas and reservoirs. Congressman John Salazar paid tribute to Fetcher on Tuesday during a speech before the U.S. House of Representatives.

"Colorado lost a legend on Friday - a lover of life, a caretaker of our precious land and water, a tireless worker, a pioneer in the ski industry, a rancher, a devoted public servant, a loving father and grandfather, and one of the finest men I have ever met," Salazar said.

Salazar, a San Luis Valley Democrat who represents Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, described Fetcher as a personal mentor who epitomized the phrase "the stuff that legends are made of."

Fetcher helped to launch the Steamboat Ski area in the late 1950s and early 1960s and supervised lift and trail construction that ushered the resort into the modern age. As a rancher, he grasped the need to create water storage for the region and spearheaded the construction of several reservoirs.

"I saw John Fetcher just last week at the Colorado Water Congress in Denver," Salazar told his colleagues in the House. "He understood, perhaps more than anyone I've ever met, that water truly is the lifeblood of the West."

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