Adventurous spirit led woman to post-war Germany, Glenwood
Post Independent Staff
If it wasn’t for her sister’s sense of adventure, Maudie Weller’s life might have been a lot more routine. As it was, the Glenwood Springs woman saw a lot of the world at a time when the world was recovering from war.
In the modest home she and her husband, Al, have lived in for 25 years, Weller told the story of her life. Sitting at her kitchen table, her eyes alight with memory, Weller’s vital energetic spirit belies her 79 years.
Weller grew up on a farm in Findlay, Ill., the youngest of six children. She graduated in 1942 from business college in Springfield, Ill. Her older sister, Essie, was working in Washington, D.C. She encouraged Weller to move there and helped find her a job with the Civil Aeronautics Administration.
Two years later, Essie, being an adventurous spirit, took a job with the Army in Germany. She wanted Maudie to keep her company and persuaded her to apply.
Initially Weller balked.
“I said no. I was underage,” she said.
But the Army wanted her, and waived the age requirement.
The sisters were sent to Frankfurt, Germany. It was the end of World War II, and American, French, British and Russian armed forces occupied the country.
“It was very bombed. Frankfurt had been hard hit” by Allied bombers, Maudie said.
As an occupied city and because the treaty officially ending the war had not yet been signed, travel was severely restricted.
“There was no public transportation. We were civilians in uniform on military orders,” Weller said, and could travel in the city on military transport.
She worked side by side in a military administration office with German people who apparently held no grudge against the Americans.
“They were all very nice,” she said.
In a few months she was transferred to Berlin. It was also terribly ruined by Allied bombing.
In 1946 she was transferred to Munich, close to the Austrian Alps. It was in much better shape than Frankfurt and Berlin and people were free to move around.
There, Maudie found her life-long passion, skiing.
“Munich was not too far from Garmisch. We went there every weekend,” she said.
Skiing there was far different from today’s sport. Slope grooming was unknown.
“You packed it yourself, on skis. It was good for building up your legs,” she said.
And there was “lots of ice.”
In Garmisch she met ski instructors Sepp Uhl and Willy Schaeffler, who migrated to Aspen in the 1950s and became ski instructors there.
“Sepp was the head of the ski school in Aspen,” Weller said.
As the smoke of war cleared in the late 1940s, life improved in Germany. Although Weller could have returned to the United States after six months, she remained in Germany for eight years.
“The life and the skiing kept me there. I just stayed because I was having lots of fun,” she said.
Travel was cheap. Weller toured most of Europe, as well as North Africa and the Middle East.
In 1946, she met a young soldier, Albert Weller. They were married in Munich in 1953.
“When we got married we didn’t know where to settle. A friend who grew up in Denver suggested it,” she said.
The fact that Colorado had mountains and skiing clinched their decision.
Al found a job with a pharmaceutical company, and they settled in and raised a family: Gregory, who now lives in Longmont with his wife, Debra, and two children, and Stephanie, who lives in Mankato, Minn. with her husband, Don, and two children.
After 16 years in Denver, Al was transferred to Glenwood Springs with the drug company. That was 25 years ago and they’ve been here ever since.
Maudie Weller, who will celebrate her 80th birthday in a week, keeps up a hectic pace. She’s been a member of the Wednesday hiking group since 1978. The group hikes in the summer and cross-country skis or snowshoes in the winter.
And of course, there’s skiing.
“I mostly ski at Sunlight; it’s handier,” she said.
Over the years she’s had to slow the skiing down a bit.
“One day I did eight runs on the west side of Sunlight and I didn’t feel tired. But if it’s bumpy I feel tired,” she said.
Her active life keeps her feeling much less than her age.
“I walk every day when I’m not skiing, at least a couple of miles,” she said. “I realize it’s a real blessing” to be able to stay active.
“Otherwise I could give up and be a couch potato. In other words, I don’t take anything for granted. When you’re young you think you can ski forever.”
Maudie’s can-do spirit has kept her young.
“What the heck, you might as well live a little,” she said “I’m not ready to grow moss yet.”
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