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George Johann Ostler

Hartford,Vt. — A well-known ski coach and instructor to generations of Dartmouth College students, died Wednesday, April 17, 2013. He was 87.

He was born in Mittenwald, Germany on Dec. 27, 1925, son of Georg and Franziska Ostler, and had lived on his farm off of Jericho Road in Hartford, Vt. for most of the years since immigrating in 1957. He was conscripted into the German Army and was wounded before he was 18 years old and, thus, was deprived of the latter years of his youth, as well as a promising international ski racing career.

In 1952, he married Annelies Holzinger. After World War II, they both worked for the US Army in Garmisch, Germany. In early 1957, with the help and encouragement of Lt. Donald Cutter of Hanover N.H., they moved to the Upper Valley, initially leaving their two young children behind with Annelies’ mother. However, soon after their immigration the quota for German immigrants had filled. It was only with the intervention of US Senator Norris Cotton that their children were able to join Annelies and George in America.

From 1960 to 1990 when he retired, George worked for Dartmouth as a ski coach. He was initially an alpine coach and then became Director of the Ski School. In its heyday, more than half of the student body participated in ski programs. It was George’s concept that led to the program’s hiring of dozens of student instructors to teach students at all levels. During his long tenure at Dartmouth, George also coached extensively on the national level. He was head coach of the Women’s US Eastern Team during the years when Olympic training was organized by region. Among his skiers were the Cochran sisters from Richmond, Vt., all Olympians. In the summers, he also ran ski camps in the West and in Europe for Head Ski. One of his former skiers described him as the best combination of technique and racing psychology of any coach he’d had. George, who was strikingly handsome with thick dark hair and thick accent, was a highly visible and audible presence on the Dartmouth tennis courts where he taught students the game for most of his 30 years with the college.

Nostalgia for Mittenwald notwithstanding, George became a Vermonter, and he was his happiest pursuing multiple interests at the Ostlers’ 130-acre farm in Hartford. His pursuits included designing, building and operating a sawmill, installing and stocking his own trout pond, and raising sheep, bees and beef cattle. Years of falling asleep with an open volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica on his chest, made him conversant on a wide-range of topics. Few could compete with him as a raconteur, and he could outlast those who tried.

He is survived by his wife, Annelies; his daughter, Elke Ostler Hanna and her husband, Tom Hanna, of Westmoreland, N.H.; son, George Herbert Ostler, and his wife, Paula Duprat of Sharon, Vt., and son, Thomas Johann Ostler, and his wife, Tracy of Hartford; his seven grandchildren, George Ostler Hanna and his wife, Amber, of Lebanon, N.H.; Thomas Ostler Hanna and his fiancée, Lisa Ferensak, of Worcester, Vt., and Benjamin Ostler Hanna of Boston; Anthony Duprat Ostler of Burlington, Vt. and Alexandra Rose Ostler of Boston; Casey Elke Ostler and Andy Mae Ostler of Hartford, Vt.; his two great-grandchildren, Annelies Rose Hanna and Olivia Ruth Hanna of Lebanon, N.H.; he is also survived by his daughter, Barbara Rusch and her husband, Fridolin Rusch, and their family in Germany and by his brother, Herbert Ostler, of Mittenwald, Germany.

Arrangements are being handled by Knight’s Funeral Home of White River Junction, Vt. 05001 and www.knightfuneralhomes.com.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. There are no calling hours. The family has suggested that donations may be made in Mr. Ostler’s memory to the VNA and Hospice of VT and NH, P. O. Box 976, White River Junction, VT 05001-0976 or to Dartmouth Hitchcock Annual Fund, D-H Development Office, One Medical Center Drive, Lebanon, NH 03756.