Bill Beck: Olympian, national downhill champion

Passing Date: 
Thursday, February 16, 2017

William (Bill) L. Beck of Middlebury, Vermont passed away peacefully on February 16, 2017 at the age of 87 following a brief Illness.

He was born in Malden, Massachusetts on September 1, 1929, the son of the late William M.H. Beck, Jr. and Ruth Clark LeBaron Beck.

Bill graduated from South Kingstown High School in Wakefield, Rhode Island and Dartmouth College, class of 1953. As a member of the Dartmouth ski team, he won national and North American downhill championships and finished fifth in the 1952 Olympic downhill in Oslo -- the best Olympic downhill result for an American man until Bill Johnson's victory in 1984. He captained the 1956 Olympic squad, and was head men's coach at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley. At the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, Bill served as an official in the downhill skiing events.

After his competitive skiing days, he founded, with Olympic teammate Verne Goodwin, the Skihaus stores in Middlebury and Rutland and Beck-Goodwin, Inc., a sales firm for ski equipment in the eastern half of the US. In 1970, they sold Beck-Goodwin, Inc. to the Garcia Corp. with a 5 year contract to manage the ski and hockey division.

After leaving the ski equipment business in 1975, Bill opened Bill Beck Real Estate, a residential real estate firm in Middlebury. Bill retired in 2001.

Bill was married for 34 years to Coleen Fitzsimmons of South Burlington, his best friend and business associate, until her untimely death on September 29, 2013. Bill and Coleen enjoyed an exceptional life together with extensive traveling. Whether they were sailing on Lake Champlain, the Caribbean or South Pacific, playing golf or traveling in their motor homes to places unknown, there was always adventures to be had.

Bill is survived by his son Billy Beck, daughter-in-law, Jenna, and grandsons Will and Jack of Victor, ID. In addition, Bill will be deeply missed by his brothers and sisters-in-law, Mark and Lisa Quinlan of South Burlington, Mark and Margaret Fitzsimmons of Alexandria, VA, and Bob and Pat Fitzsimmons of East Montpelier.

A celebration of Bill's life will be held in Middlebury later in the spring. 

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