Obituary: John Wilhelms |

John Wilhelms
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December 27, 1950 – January 13, 2022

The spirit of John Maynard Wilhelms was released on January 13, 2022. A longtime resident of Summit County, John’s infectious love for life and beaming optimism will live on forever among the hundreds of people he touched during his journey among us.

John was born on December 27, 1950, in Red Oak, Iowa, to Betty and Meno Wilhelms, the second of four children. The family emigrated to California shortly after his birth. John inherited his love of the outdoors from his father, with whom he explored the mountains of California. This motivated him to join the Boy Scouts to achieve the top rank of Eagle. He later shared the adventure with his son Ross as an adult leader and scoutmaster in the Denver area. When John was 13, he received a surfboard for his birthday. From then on, her life was dominated by the love of the ocean and the mountains.

John graduated from Mission Bay High School, San Diego, in 1969 where he was an avid water skier and could be found riding the waves of Ocean Beach in La Jolla.

He graduated in 1973 from the University of California, Santa Barbara (business economics), chosen mainly for its reputation as a surfing paradise. His freshman year was interrupted by a trip with friends in a Volkswagen van from San Diego to Ecuador and Peru for which (as a selling point to his parents) he managed to receive college class credit.

After graduating, John traveled to the United States to help a friend start a beachwear and surfwear distribution business. Along the way, he spent a year promoting and distributing surfing feature films in Hawaii and California. This led to a six-month trip with his brother showing surf movies to mountain towns and universities in Utah and Colorado.

Back in California, John became a real estate broker. But the mountains called to him, and in 1979 he moved to Colorado to become a commercial real estate appraiser. After earning his Master Appraiser Institute (MAI) designation, he built a business specializing in vacation property appraisals. His clientele included some of the best-known resorts in the mountainous and oceanic regions of the continental United States, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean.

In 2001, John moved to Summit County where he taught his clients the meaning of “powder days”. For 15 years he lived (as he put it) “right off the trail” at Copper Mountain and prided himself on skiing or mountain biking two hours a day. The mountains and the ocean were the cornerstone of his love of the outdoors…but his real passions were his family and the many friends he had made in the ski and bike communities of Summit County.

John was active with the Summit Mountain Biking group and the local Copper Mountain ski community. If you couldn’t reach John or his partner Aleda, they were probably on their way to Moab, usually with friends.

In 2019, John was diagnosed with aggressive cancer. Like everything he did, he attacked it with grace, energy and optimism. He continued to live his life, sharing his experience with those close to him. His final gift to us was his example of courage, passion and love.

John was predeceased by his son Ross. He leaves behind his daughter, Jolene Wilhelms, his life partner Aleda Kresge, his sister Pamela Wilhelms and his brothers Tom Wilhelms and Larry Wilhelms – and hundreds of people whose lives he touched along the way.

To remember John, donations can be made in his name to SCOMBA Mountain Bike Group, Friends of Dillon Ranger District or just smile and hug someone and remember this quiet man but truly compassionate.

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