Olympian, Wildcat founder, heliski pioneer

Passing Date: 
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wildcat co-founder Joseph Brooks Dodge Jr., 88, passed away on January 17. The son of legendary Appalachian Mountain Club huts manager Joe Dodge, Brooks was born in Conway, New Hampshire on December 30, 1929. As a teenager, Brooks worked for the AMC on Mt. Washington and became an accomplished alpine skier, establishing multiple routes in Tuckerman Ravine. He won the 1947 Eastern Downhill Championship, held on the Wildcat ski trail. He raced for Dartmouth on a scholarship and graduated in 1953.

As a member of the U.S. Ski Team, Dodge placed sixth in giant slalom and ninth in slalom at the 1952 Oslo Olympics. After serving in the Army at Garmisch, and racing on the Army team, he placed fourth in slalom at the 1956 Cortina Olympics, the best result among U.S. men until 1964.

Following the Olympics, Dodge married Ann Schafer, a 1955 graduate of the Georgetown Law School. They settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Dodge earned his MBA at Harvard, graduating in 1958. Meanwhile he joined Mack Beal, George Macomber, and Malcolm McLane to develop a ski area on Wildcat Mountain in his native Pinkham Notch. Dodge engineered much of the initial construction, and the ski area opened in January 1958.

After a year with Polaroid, Dodge joined a commercial real estate development firm in Boston. While raising two children, from 1962 to 1972 he and Ann ran charter ski trips to Europe. In 1965 they brought the first group of skiers to Hans Gmoser’s new heliski operation, Canadian Mountain Holidays.

Brooks and Ann became licensed pilots and, while Ann flew the tow plane, Brooks embarked on a successful career as a competitive sailplane pilot. In 1978, during a long-distance glider race, Brooks passed out from heat stroke and suffered a near-fatal crash. After his recovery, the couple devoted themselves to cycling, all over the world. Dodge was inducted into the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame in 1978.

Ann died in March 2017. Dodge is survived by his children Joseph Brooks Dodge III and Christl Dodge. —Seth Masia

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