Over the course of its rich history, Winter Park Resort has been shaped by many great people and one person who stands out for his enormous and enduring impact is former Winter Park Resort President Jerry Groswold, who sadly passed away last Thursday, November 26 after complications from pneumonia at the age of 84.
A titan in the ski industry and one of the most important figures in the sport’s history in Colorado, under Jerry’s stewardship, which began as member of the Winter Park Recreational Association in 1959, continued as chairman of the board in 1970, and culminated in his serving as Winter Park President and CEO from 1975 to 1997, he presided over unprecedented growth, indelibly leaving his mark on the resort we all hold dear today. His link to Winter Park even extended back to its very creation, when as an eight-year old boy in 1939, he delivered water to the workers cutting what would be known as the Hughes Trail and months later would be among those to first ski Winter Park when the area was officially opened on January 28, 1940.
In the 27 years that Jerry served as WPRA chairman and then resort president, he oversaw the addition of iconic terrain at Mary Jane, Vasquez Ridge, Parsenn Bowl, and began the planning for the Village at Winter Park Resort, elevating Winter Park from a small, cozy ski area to one of the preeminent big-mountain resorts in the country. He also created “Groswold’s Discovery Park,” an industry-leading beginner’s area, in which the run “Ski Papa” was named in his honor, founded the Winter Park ski jumping program, and was instrumental in building West Portal Station as well as The Lodge at Sunspot. Even many of the resort’s treasured traditions, including the Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade, are thanks to the influence of Jerry Groswold. For his immense contributions to the sport, Jerry was enshrined in the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1986, the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1987, the Colorado Ski Business Hall of Fame in 2005 and received countless other awards. He also served as Chairman of the National Ski Areas Association and Colorado Ski Country USA, both important trade associations for the ski industry. Jerry was also a passionate philanthropist, creating the Grand Foundation, which has granted over $6 million to various Grand County organizations in the areas of Health & Human Services, Arts & Culture, Education, Amateur Sports, and Environment, enriching the lives of everyone who calls Grand County home. At the time of his death, he was serving on the University of Denver’s Strategic issues panel, which is tasked with addressing challenges facing the state of Colorado.
Jerry was also pivotal in the creation of the Winter Park Handicapped Program in 1970, which has evolved into the National Sports Center for the Disabled and has opened up the world of skiing to countless thousands who otherwise might never get to experience the thrill of the sport. There’s no greater gift than hope, and the empowerment enjoyed by so many thanks to their involvement in the NSCD transcends skiing and is perhaps Jerry’s greatest legacy.
He was preceded in death by his daughter Karen, and is survived by his brother, Thor Groswold, Jr., his daughters Kathy and Karol, and seven grand-children.
Even with a litany of incredible accomplishments, for those who had the immense pleasure of knowing Jerry Groswold he will forever be remembered for being a big-hearted, generous man who loved Winter Park and cherished its employees. In a way, it’s fitting that Jerry left us on Thanksgiving because it reminds us all that we are forever in his debt for laying the foundation that has enabled Winter Park Resort to be truly great.
A memorial will be held in the future, but in the meantime, donations can be made in Jerry’s name to the NSCD, P.O. Box 1290, Winter Park, CO 80482 and to the Grand Foundation, P.O. Box 1342, Winter Park, CO 80482.
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