Home News Local News Geiser Grand Hotel’s prime rib ‘to live for’
Geiser Grand Hotel’s prime rib ‘to live for’
By Lisa Britton
For the Baker City Herald
Glenn Haar, of Boise, could have gone to Disneyland, or New York City, or any other place.
But Haar, 55, chose Baker City — specifically to stay at the Geiser Grand Hotel and eat prime rib.
“Beef stroganoff is amazing, too. And the chef,” Glenn says, his voice a whisper.
Then he runs a hand over his bald head, tracing the slight indent left from surgery to remove a brain tumor.
Haar’s wish for the Geiser and prime rib came true through Wish Granters, which grants wishes for those 18 and older who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
The organization, which granted its first wish in December 2010, operates in Ada and Canyon counties in Idaho.
Haar’s wish — “I’d really like more prime rib at the Geiser Grand” — was their 81st.
“And we’re working on 21 more,” said Doug Raper, the founder and executive director of Wish Granters.
Raper previously worked for Make-A-Wish and Wishing Star, which both grant wishes for children with terminal illness.
“I knew there was a need for adults,” he said.
Wish Granters operates on donations, grants and fundraisers.
“It’s a constant battle to raise the money to get these wishes done (in time) — sometimes we have months, weeks or even days,” he said.
In addition to two nights at the Geiser Grand and eating prime rib (Chef Gary Wainscott volunteered to come in on his night off), the Haars were treated to a horse-drawn carriage ride by Ron Colton and a private historical tour of the hotel by Denny Grosse.
Later, on the family blog, Linda wrote: “Glenn had the option of wishing for numerous material goods. What he wanted most was to create memories. ... The hospitality of the Geiser Grand is always outstanding but I can’t thank them enough for the special attention they gave Glenn and me while we were there.”
Barbara Sidway, who owns the hotel, was touched by this wish.
“He could choose any wish — Disneyland, Hawaii, anywhere, and he chose Historic Baker City and the Geiser Grand Hotel! Wow!” she said. “We’re so filled with joy, and want Baker City to feel that pride too. It was a humbling privilege to honor this man. Such an affirmation of how our team is so warm and welcoming, and really deliver a transcendent guest experience.”
Haar’s medical battle began in October 2012.
One morning, he took a shower and came out holding a soaking wet towel.
His wife, Linda, questioned him — he said he’d taken the towel into the shower.
She knew something was wrong.
“His whole left side was not quite right,” she said.
She told him to sit on the bed while she called his doctor.
Her request was met with confusion as Glenn responded “I don’t know what you mean.”
“I thought it was a stroke,” she said.
An MRI revealed a brain tumor the size of an egg.
Surgery was immediate, followed by rehab and treatment.
But the tumor came back.
Along with several more.
In January, the Haars were told there was no other treatment. His doctor estimated he had six to eight weeks to live.
“It’s been five weeks,” Linda said Monday morning as they prepared to drive home.
But he’s not really counting down.
“He told me ‘I’m going to make the days count, not count the days I have left,’ ” Linda said.
“Get out there and enjoy yourself,” he said.
In early February he was treated to a touching retirement party — he’d worked for the State of Idaho for 35 years, 31 of those with the tax commission.
Haar’s wish was all about memories.
He and Linda and their three children stayed at the Geiser Grand in 1999.
That was their first taste of the prime rib, which has never been bested.
“The best prime rib of anywhere we’ve traveled,” Linda said.
(Glenn really likes the steel-cut oatmeal, too. Geiser owner Barbara Sidway gave him a bag to take home.)
They returned numerous times, enjoying the hotel and the town.
“We’ve always made a point to stop here,” Linda said. “The people are so friendly. It’s just one of those places that you love.”
But it all comes back to the prime rib.
“Glenn says it’s to live for,” Linda said with a smile.
Although Wish Granters is active in only Ada and Canyon counties in Idaho, Doug Raper, executive director, would like to serve a larger area someday.
“Eventually we will expand when we have the resources,” he said. “There will come a day when we will do wishes in Baker.”
The nonprofit has granted more than 80 wishes since December 2010.
“A lot of them involve the family,” Raper said.
That could be a trip to Disneyland, or a request for new carpet throughout the house.
They depend on monetary donations, but also in-kind donations.
“Noncash donations are really important — it makes the cash donations go further,” he said.
The wishes are a race against time, filling a request before a person passes away.
“When you see the dreams come true — that’s what it’s all about,” Raper said.
People can be referred to Wish Granters by hospice, social workers, doctors, nurses, family, friends or themselves. For more information, or to donate, visit the website, www.wishgranters.org.