< Back to Blog
2019 Citizen of the Year | Betsy and George Wiegers
Avon, Colo., Jan 4, 2019 — It was the mid-1800s when Benjamin Jowett first coined the phrase, “The way to get things done is not to mind who gets the credit of doing them.” In the Vail Valley community, it is Betsy and George Wiegers who are the embodiment of the concept, coining it anew through incredible acts of philanthropy throughout Eagle County and beyond. For their good work in this community and beyond, the Vail Valley Foundation today named Betsy and George Wiegers as the 2019 Vail Valley Citizens of the Year. The pair will be honored at the Vail Valley Foundation’s 2019 Black Diamond Ball, set for Feb. 15 at the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek and themed on “the Orient Express.” “There is virtually no area of community life that they have not elevated through their giving, Board service, vision, and foresight,” said Ann Smead, Chairman of the Vail Valley Foundation Board of Directors. “We are so thankful to them, and I feel, in truth, they are honoring us by allowing us to honor them as Citizens of the Year.” Improving the community Betsy and George have each specialized in various areas of work. Betsy’s impact has largely focused largely on the arts, education, and overall beautification of the communities she touches, even as her philanthropic giving has spanned nearly all walks of life in the Vail Valley. She has been instrumental in the flourishing of the Vail Dance Festival, Bravo! Vail, and support of classical music and dance in general, including her roles in strong support of American Ballet Theater, the Denver Art Museum, the Betty Ford Gardens, the Philadelphia Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, and the New York Historical Society. She plays a crucial role on the Vail Dance Festival committee, and as underwriter for countless performances in both dance and classical, including the creation of the Betsy Wiegers Choral Fund, in honor of John W. Giovando, which brings choral work to Bravo! Vail each summer. She has been a trustee of Bravo! Vail and served on the Board of Directors for the Vail Valley Foundation since 2007. For newcomers to the Vail Valley, it can come as a serendipitous surprise that the venerable New York Philharmonic has a summer residency here, and has since 2003. Only a very few are aware that it was Betsy who played the pivotal role in instigating this program. Taking care of heart, mind, and body It has largely been George who has spearheaded the couple’s work in mental and physical health, environment, and veteran’s affairs. George was the visionary behind the creation of the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “I think George’s legacy is huge, and it’s really changed the face of mental health care in Colorado and beyond,” said Heather Mulvihill, Chairman of the Depression Center. George has also been a major funder of Dr. Karl Deisseroth, whose laboratory at Stanford is globally recognized as an epicenter of new research in the fields of optogenetics and CLARITY mapping – two cutting-edge technologies. Betsy and George have been strong supporters of the Vail Valley Foundation’s mission to improve quality of life in the Vail Valley through arts, athletics, and education, supporting the VVF’s work from the Vilar Performing Arts Center, to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, YouthPower365’s education work, the aforementioned Vail Dance Festival and beyond. They have also been strong supporters of the Eagle County Land Trust and Vail Health. Betsy and George met in New York, soon after George left the Army. They were married there in 1965. Their son Alex was born in 1968, and is now married to Connie Wiegers. Betsy and George are now loving role models to granddaughters Hanna Wiegers and Lizzy Wiegers, as well as to the extended Wiegers family. Betsy and George Wiegers join a distinguished list of previous recipients of the Citizen of the Year honor: Previous Vail Valley Citizen of the Year honorees: 1981 Peter Abuisi 1982 E.B. Chester 1983 Jack Crosby 1984 President Gerald R. Ford 1985 Harry Frampton 1986 Helen Fritch 1987 George Gillett 1988 Merv Lapin 1989 Sheika & Pepi Gramshammer 1990 Paul Johnson 1991 Kent Rose 1992 Rod Slifer 1993 Dr. Richard Steadman 1994 John Garnsey 1995 John Horan-Kates 1996 Vi & Byron Brown 1997 Gil Giordano 1998 Barbara Treat 1999 Judy Alexander 2000 Pete Seibert 2001 Mary Louise Shaw 2002 Gerald Gallegos 2003 Cathy & Howard Stone 2004 Oscar Tang 2005 Diana Donovan 2006 Chupa Nelson 2007 Erik & Kathy Borgen 2008 Jack Eck 2009 Beth Slifer 2010 Martha Head 2013 Ann Smead 2014 Amy & Steve Coyer 2015 Pat & Pete Frechette 2016 Mary Sue & Mike Shannon 2017 Jay Precourt 2019 Betsy and George Wiegers About the Vail Valley Foundation The Vail Valley Foundation is a 501c3 Colorado non-profit with a mission to enhance the quality of life in the Vail Valley through arts, athletics and education. The organization’s work in education is through YouthPower365, which operates as it sown 501c3 with a mission to provide year-round extended learning opportunities that empower and educate the youth and families of Eagle County from cradle-to-career readiness. The Vail Valley Foundation also provides the Vail Valley with several of its most treasured annual events, such as the GoPro Mountain Games, the Birds of Prey FIS Alpine World Cup races, the Vail Dance Festival, Hot Summer Nights and ShowDown Town free concert series’, and the Whistle Pig Vail concert series. The Vail Valley Foundation also manages and operates the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek Village and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, providing more than 100 Broadway, dance, classical, rock, pop, jazz and family events per year. Vail Valley Foundation activities and events are made possible by cornerstone partners: the Town of Vail, Vail Resorts, GMC, and TIAA Bank. Visit www.vvf.org to learn more. To learn more about the Vail Valley Foundation activities and events visit www.vvf.org.