Here is the story of how Joyce and George Engel became legends in Winter Park and Fraser. In 1945, Winter Park Resort hired George Engel as their very first paid ski patroller. Little could George have known that this job would lead him to his wife, Joyce Hanna, disembarking from a ski train, and together they would call Winter Park and the Fraser Valley their home for life. Along with Joyce and their daughters, the Engel Family would have a lasting influence not only on Winter Park Resort but on the Fraser Valley community as well.
In the year following his hiring as Winter Park’s ski patroller, George Engel took on different responsibilities at the ski area, such as plowing the parking lot and collecting rental fees in the bunkhouse. Gordy Wren and Frank Bulkley formed Colorado Outings in 1946 and started the ski school at Winter Park. As director of the ski school, Gordy Wren hired George Engel as a ski instructor. That same year George passed one of the first ski instructor certification exams ever held. By 1949, the Professional Ski Instructors of America was formed and Engel held pin # 12.
Gordy Wren was busy practicing for the 1948 Olympics and consequently sold his share in Colorado Outings. This gave George Engel the opportunity to buy into the company and he became director and eventually sole owner of the ski school. George added the Winter Park Ski Shop onto the ski school.
George met the love of his life, Joyce Hanna in 1951 as she disembarked from the Winter Park Ski Train. Joyce, with two BA degrees from the University of Colorado, was ready to ski and work. After dating for three weeks, George proposed to his future bride and business partner. The Winter Park Ski School under George’s leadership, and the Winter Park Ski Shop with Joyce at the helm, became fixtures of the ski area. George and Joyce’s two daughters grew up on the slopes.
Daughters Wendy and Janet tell wonderful stories from when the family lived in an apartment above the Winter Park Ski Shop. After Winter Park Resort bought the ski school in 1982, they demolished the shop and apartment to make way for the West Portal Station.
Along with skiing, another Engel passion was horses which led to their acquiring 40 acres along County Road 5 where they built Casa de Engel. From their ranch, the Engels helped to establish the Winter Park Horseman’s Association and the High Country Stampede Rodeo at John Work Arena in Fraser. Naturally, Janet Engel became a rodeo star. The Engels were also involved with the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo for decades.
As community leaders, the Engels transformed Winter Park Resort and the Fraser Valley. They helped start the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and the Winter Park Sanitation District. Joyce Engel was a founder of the Grand County Concert Series bringing live classical music to this rural community. In 1968, George Engel was instrumental in bringing the National Sports Center for the Disabled to Winter Park. The family’s wide-ranging passions enrich all our lives then, now and into the future.