Steamboat hotel owner, musician, philanthropist dies at 58
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — On Saturday morning, 7-year-old Piper Wetzler practiced the song “Hallelujah” on her violin with the hopes of performing it later that day at her father’s memorial service.
Her father, 58-year-old Jay Wetzler who is the owner of the Steamboat Mountain Lodge hotel, died suddenly on Thanksgiving Day after suffering a massive stroke.
Jay’s wife, Michelle, was unsure if Piper would be able to perform the song at the service.
“It was a song that her and her Dad played at a talent show,” Michelle said. “Him on guitar, and her on the violin. I think she’s still in shock.”
In addition to being a local philanthropist, Jay was an avid musician.
“He loved it,” Michelle said. “It was a really big backbone.”
Jay used to be the lead vocalist and guitar player in a Denver band called the Heart Beats, which toured in 14 states and Canada.
Michelle said Jay’s father, Willis, bought Jay a limousine that was once owned by Sammy Davis Jr. so the band could make a flashy entrance when the arrived in the various towns.
Jay shared his passion for music with his daughter, and he volunteered at the music program at Emerald Mountain School, which Piper attends.
“He loved the school very much,” said Michelle, who met Jay while working at Steamboat Mountain Lodge.
Jay was also an avid mountain biker, angler and hunter.
“He would bow hunt,” Michelle said. “He would leave for a month every fall and go up in the mountains with our llamas. They would completely rough it.”
Jay also enjoyed giving back to the community.
He was a member of the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs for about 10 years.
Scott Marr, a Rotary Club member and a fellow hotel owner across the street from The Steamboat Mountain Lodge at the Holiday Inn, said Jay was very involved in the club.
He served as president from 2000 to 2001 and was an honorary member when he died.
Jay was very involved in organizing the club’s Tango and Cash fundraiser.
Jay was also really involved with helping people with disabilities, and he helped raise money for the Horizons Specialized Services organization in Steamboat.
“He used to do a big fundraiser for them every year that brought 400 to 500 people,” Marr said.
Professionally, Marr said Jay managed close to 100 hotel rooms. Jay’s father, who helped develop the Super 8 franchise, built the Steamboat Mountain Lodge.
“A very much hands-on guy,” Marr said.
The memorial service for Jay was held Saturday at the Steamboat Mountain Lodge.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.