Neil Seitz, age 67, achieved freedom from a long illness on November 17, 2021. He passed away peacefully with his wife by his side at his home at Valley View Hot Springs, Moffat, CO. Neil was born on August 12th, 1954 in Winona, Minnesota, to Doris May (Hoffman) Seitz and Ferdinand aka Vernon Seitz both of whom pre-deceased him. He is survived by his wife of more than 40 years Terry (McLaughlin) Seitz, his brother Donn Seitz (Revae) of Winona, his three sisters Suzanne Arnold (Richard) of Baja Mexico, Keta McCarthy (Brian) of Winnetka, IL, Amy Cordry (Val) of Winona, and his three children James Seitz (Deanna) of Parachute, CO, Michael Seitz of Poncha Springs, and Lucia Seitz Kaichen (Lucas) of Fairbanks, AK, as well as his 5 grandchildren – Alexis - 16, Tatum - 13, Gauge - 13, Elijah - 11 and Ivy - 4. Neil was a beloved member of his wife’s family and survivors include his mother-in-law Hilda (Scott) McLaughlin – 98, and his sisters-in-law Karen McLaughlin (Mark Schubin) of New York City and Elinor Laurie (Richard) of Moffat.
Neil was working toward an engineering degree at CU Boulder when he was told about a place called Valley View Hot Springs and his life’s path was permanently altered. Upon visiting the hot springs in 1974 he decided to take a semester off from college to caretake the hot springs for then owners Roy and Faye Everson. That semester off lasted for the rest of his life, and his vision for the hot springs and surrounding area guided him and proved a lasting passion. A year after he moved to Valley View, Terry joined him and together they steered the popular and unique resort for nearly 30 years, having purchased it from the Everson family in 1979. In 2001 the Seitzes realized that there needed to be a way to preserve the hot springs for generations to come, beyond their lifetimes. They created Orient Land Trust to do this and in 2010 donated the property to the non-profit. Not long after donating the hot springs, Neil was diagnosed with Posterior Cortical Atrophy, a rare form of early onset dementia.
Neil was very active in the communities of northern Saguache County for many years. He enjoyed his participation in the SC Search & Rescue in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He served for many years on the SC Planning Commission. But one of his great, and much appreciated, endeavors was the annual fireworks show at Valley View on the 4th of July which he provided for nearly a quarter century until his disease and other factors required him to give it up.
Neil was extremely intelligent, a true renaissance man, patient, dedicated and a wonderful father. He held life-long beliefs about the necessity of reducing the planet’s population, and this led him and Terry to adopt their three children. It also inspired him to develop an off-grid electric system for Valley View utilizing hydroelectric power, creating a “green” resort before it was in vogue. Neil was also devoted to the freedom of clothing-optional recreation.
Neil was a shining star of inspiration for many, many people who worked with him, visited the hot springs, or were lucky enough to become his friend. His vision enabled many to find peace, joy, community, purpose, acceptance and love. Neil will be hugely missed but never forgotten. It is hoped that a memorial celebration of his life will be held at Valley View in the summer of 2022. Gifts in memory of Neil may be made to Orient Land Trust.
Neil Seitz died November 17, 2021 in his home. For those of us who have been around for a while, Neil was well known and recognized for many remarkable achievements. The hot springs was once owned and operated by the Everson family and, in the early years of Neil's stewardship, he spent many days helping Roy Everson at the Everson Ranch in addition to overseeing daily activity at the hot springs. Neil was a hot springs caretaker at first and then worked out a lease arrangement. Neil and Terry bought the hot springs in 1979 from Faye Everson after Roy died in 1978. The Seitzes rebuilt the swimming pool, integrated geothermal space heating, fixed up the old cabins, built the hydroelectric power plant, built the bathrooms, and navigated a balance between fixing up the hot springs and retaining a rustic and historic atmosphere.
How does one protect and shelter the natural wealth of this place? Neil and Terry answered the question by founding Orient Land Trust in 2001. Through the years before the land trust they had worked toward environmentally sound practices. As the goals of the land trust were articulated, past innovations and forward looking ideas became part of the ideals. Miles from the electrical grid, alternative energy ideals led to hydroelectricity. Valuing natural resources extended to protecting water, wildlife, and flora. Preserving the history of the Orient Mine, the agricultural heritage of the area as well as promoting sustainable land use were recognized and specifically documented. Trying to save some of the vistas and open land that once characterized this part of the world was recognized as a worthwhile effort. The oasis of the hot springs had for many years offered opportunities for people to reveal their bodies and, in so doing, reveal their undisguised inner selves. This too was woven into the purposes of Orient Land Trust. Part of the donation of the hot springs to the land trust includes a deed restriction that guarantees that clothing remains merely an option. Neil and Terry, conservationists with regard for nature and history, created the land trust in alignment with these values. Their life's work was donated to protect the place treasured by so many. The work reaches beyond the boundaries of OLT's properties into the entire northern San Luis Valley.
For many years, Neil and Terry lived in a small log cabin built in the 1920s. In the late 1980s, the Seitz home was built. There, Neil and Terry raised their children and used the precious large space for extended family get-togethers, board meetings, and gatherings for many occasions. Prior to his death, Neil had been ill for several years yet was able to live out his life at his Valley View Hot Springs home. We are grateful for his inspiring vision and many gifts. Our admiration, respect, and gratitude are extended with our sincere condolences to Terry and the family.
December is a time when many people plan to spend time with family and celebrate holidays. Last year, Valley View was open for most of December because we were closed for more than four months due to Covid-19. This year, we will return to our normal December schedule. We will be closed from December 1st - 28th. For the first 2 weeks (December 1st through the 16th), members can call to make a reservation and voice mail messages will be returned. We will not be checking messages or returning calls from December 17th - 26th so don't leave a message during this time. On December 27, we will again answer the phones and return calls. On December 29, we will reopen.
Although the virus has altered our numbers and reduced some of the amenities that we all enjoy, we have weathered 2021 more comfortably than we expected. The contagious virus is surging yet again as of mid-November and it looks like we will all be making adjustments. The uncertainties call for a degree of caution. We are looking at keeping the visitor numbers reduced but hope to be able to provide cooking utensils and dishes once again. Depending on the indicators, there may be other amenities that we can affordably and safely provide.
Thank you for your support and your patience. We have preferred to err on the side of being extra careful while keeping requirements at a minimum. There is a broad range of opinion and belief throughout the world and Valley View visitors also reflect this wide range.
These 3 qualities, Recognition, Respect and Responsibility, were coined by Neil and Terry Seitz, the Founders of Orient Land Trust and developers of Valley View Hot Springs, as a reminder to everyone who visits to Recognize the beauty, uniqueness and sacredness of this place. Be respectful and kind to yourself and others. Respect the natural environment and wildlife that share their home with all of us. Take Responsibility for yourself and all you bring with you, familiarize yourself with the procedures and guidelines so your visit will align with the other "R's" Relaxation, Rejuvenation, and Reverence.
The mission statement for Orient Land Trust is another reminder of what our focus is:
The land trust is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Valley View Hot Springs and its viewshed, including natural and biological resources, agricultural lands, wildlife habitat, open space, and historic and geologic features of the northern San Luis Valley, for the education and enjoyment of current and future generations.
Valley View Hot Springs is a unique place where you can immerse yourself in nature while connecting personally with OLT's cycle of sustainability. Through your stewardship and contributions, you help preserve the natural resources.
Appreciation and Gratitude to all who contribute time and money to OLT.
Happy Holidays! May you experience Peace of Mind and Excellent Health in the New Year 2022.
From all the staff at Orient Land Trust and Valley View Hot Springs