George Peck Caulkins Jr., a businessman, civic leader and philanthropist, and one of the handful of skiing enthusiasts who developed Vail, Colo., died in March 2005 at his home in Denver. He was 83.
Caulkins, who made his fortune in the oil business, joined a small band of promoters who happened upon Vail in the late 1950's, when it was nothing but a snow-smothered mountain pass in the Colorado Rockies. The group raised the money to create what eventually ballooned into a busy and pricey resort replete with tanned celebrities and Tyrolean chalets.
Caulkins was born in Grosse Pointe, Mich., and attended Yale, where he excelled in sports. His education was interrupted, however, by World War II, in which he served as a naval officer aboard a destroyer. Having finally received his bachelor's degree from Yale after the war, he went on to Harvard and earned an M.B.A.
He founded the Caulkins Oil Company in Oklahoma in the 1950's, before moving to Denver. Other business interests included the Caulkins Citrus Company, in Florida, where he was managing general partner, and a directorship in Colorado State Bank and Trust.
Mr. Caulkins was Colorado finance chairman for George Bush's 1980 presidential campaign. Most recently, he supported Denver's plans for a new lyric opera stage, which is headed for completion in September. It will be called the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, in honor of his wife of 43 years, Eleanor Newman Caulkins. Mrs. Caulkins is a former president of the Metropolitan Opera National Council, a leading board member of Opera Colorado and an occasional member of that company's chorus.
Besides his wife, Mr. Caulkins is survived by four sons, John N., of Prague; David I., of Vail; and George P. III and Max O.B., both of Denver; a daughter, Mary I. Caulkins of Denver; two sisters, Barbara Lamb of Hilton Head Island, S.C., and Christina Finkenstaedt of Grosse Pointe; a brother, John, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; and three grandsons.