F. Charles Froelicher, Original Executive Director of the Gates Family Foundation Passes Away at Age 89

F. Charles (Chuck) Froelicher died peacefully at his home in Denver, Colorado on October 17, 2014. He was 89.

Chuck became the first executive director of the Gates Family Foundation in 1975 and, during the next 17 years, promoted projects that will continue to benefit Colorado’s citizens and visitors into the foreseeable future. He regarded the foundation’s support as “educational and environmental venture capital.” 

A passionate preserver of open space and scenic beauty, Froelicher made the foundation an early supporter of the South Platte River Greenway, which has transformed the South Platte and Cherry Creek waterways as they run through Denver and beyond. In 40 years, the Greenway has grown from stagnant creeks and midnight dumps into more than 150 miles of model biking and hiking paths, boat launches and parks. “Of all the things I have worked on,” Froelicher said in a 2014 interview, “the Greenway may have the most long-lasting impact.”

Froelicher also championed educational choice and, in 1989, used the foundation’s resources to organize a seminal conference on the subject.

A man of great scope and tenacity, Froelicher was the founding headmaster of Colorado Academy, the prime mover acheter viagra in bringing Outward Bound to the United States, a founder of the Copper Mountain ski resort, a champion of Denver Botanic Gardens as an independent non-profit organization, and a force behind establishing both the Sangree Hut in the 10th Mountain Division hut system and the South Platte River Greenway that runs through Denver. Numerous awards attest to his focus, tenacity, and accomplishment.  

“Although we knew it was coming, his death still came as a shock to our family,” wrote three of his grandchildren in an open letter to friends. “We were all convinced he was invincible.”

“Chuck knew how to create excitement in people,” said Richard Lamm, a three-term Colorado governor and longtime friend of Froelicher. “He was tall, impressive, and articulate, and he knew how to bring the right people together.”

Surprisingly for a headmaster, Froelicher had been an indifferent student. “I had the perfect background to start a school,” he said during a 2012 interview, “because I have always had enormous sympathy for students who do not mature academically on a date certain. My Latin teacher said I used 5 percent of my brain on academics.” He preferred sports, fly fishing, and exploring mountains and rivers.

Among his numerous awards, F. Charles Froelicher received the Kurt Hahn Award from Outward Bound USA in 1983, the George E. Cranmer Award from Colorado Open Lands in 1992, the Friend of the River Award from the Greenway Preservation Trust in 2003, and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Johns Hopkins University in 2008.

A 2014 biography of Froelicher by Katherine Millett, Profile of a Schoolmaster, is available online at the Colorado Academy website in the Alumni section.

He is survived by a son, Franz Froelicher, and a daughter, Frederica Froelicher, from his  marriage to the late Patricia Barrett Froelicher; a brother, Frederic Sharpless Froelicher; four step-children from his marriage to the late Jane Stuart Righter Froelicher: Susannah Bristol, Charles Woolley, Christopher Woolley, and Thomas Woolley; and 10 grandchildren.

Memorial gifts may be sent to the F. Charles Froelicher Fund for Colorado Academy, 3800 South Pierce Street, Denver, CO 80235 or to another charity of the donor’s choice.