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The newspaper said that the couple came to personify Summit County skiing as no others could. “Still skiing into her 80s, Edna had the brightest smile and the quickest laugh in Ski Country.”
Brown brought military discipline
VAIL, Colo. – William R. “Sarge” Brown, a 10 th Mountain Division veteran who introduced snowmaking to Vail Mountain, has died at the age of 85.
Brown grew up in Idaho, near where the new ski resort called Tamarack is located. During World War II he ended up with the 10 th Mountain Division, training at Camp Hale, between Leadville and what is now Vail.
He saw combat in Italy, and again later in the Korean War. In all he was awarded five Purple Hearts (for wounds), two Silver Stars and three Bronze stars. He rose to the rank of senior master sergeant, the highest noncommissioned rank in the Army. His final job had been to supervise the Reserve Officers Training Corps program at Dartmouth College, which is located in New England.
Retiring from the U.S. Army in 1966, he rejoined other 10 th Mountain veterans Pete Seibert and Bob Parker at the new resort of Vail. At Vail, he introduced military discipline into his job as trail boss. Later, he became the mountain manager.
“His contribution, from the very first day as trail crew supervisor, was to establish paramilitary standards of scheduling and planning, punctuality, equipment care and personal appearance,” Parker said.
“Sarge,” as he was universally called, also was vital in introducing snowmaking to Vail Mountain, which was among the first resorts in the West to do so. His job at Dartmouth had made him aware of snow variability in New England, a problem apparent even at Vail during its first season. But some particularly steep faces lower on the mountain needed additional snow in even the best of years.
Michael Berry, who today is president of the National Ski Areas Association, was in his early 20s and working at a New England resort when he was hired by Brown in 1974 to become Vail’s professional snowmaker.
Brown’s reputation for being a gruff and demanding taskmaster is fully warranted, says Berry. “There was no doubt that he could be as hard as anybody I’ve ever worked for,” says Berry.
But when he took a personal interest in somebody, as he did with Berry, he also helped them become better people. Berry considers him one of the handful of people who has been most influential in his life.