Burt Sims - Burt Sims, award-winning ski journalist

Passing Date

Born in Los Angeles in 1918, Burt Sims began his career as newspaperman in 1934 when, at age 15, “Boys Day in Industry” brought him to the city room of the Los Angeles Examiner. While a senior at Washington High, he was hired to report high-school sports scores. Burt spent the next 40 years in editorial at the Hearst papers, forging close friendships with fellow newsmen Jim Murray, Jack Smith and other denizens of the L.A. Press Club, and witnessing—from the unique perspective of picture editor, city editor, news editor and assistant managing editor of a major daily newspaper—the city’s biggest stories.

Though Burt augmented his early livelihood with magazine fiction, detective stories and television scripts, it was ski writing that was closest to his heart. An avid skier—he’d herring-boned up Mt. Waterman before a chair lift existed—Burt combined skiing with his day job, writing, in the late 1930’s, his “Ski Scope” column—the first of its kind to chronicle the local ski scene. A frequent contributor to Ski and Skiing, Burt covered the Winter Olympics, became friends with the stars of the sport and was once even stranded in the mountains of Chile when a press junket to cover pro racing was cut short by a series of avalanches. Nickamed the Dean of Ski Writing, Burt received numerous awards from the Far West Ski Association and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association—an organization he helped to found.

In 1980, Burt moved to Orange County to pursue his dream of part-time freelancing. His wish was transformed into yet another full-time job, writing and editing under his own card, The News Desk. But it was his tenure as a 24-year-old combat intelligence officer with the 355th Fighter Group of the Eighth Air Force that informed most of the storytelling of his later years. His consummately written squadron log was a major source of information for best friend Norman “Bud” Fortier’s Ace of the Eighth: An American Fighter Pilot’s Air War in Europe (Ballantine, 2003). Burt proudly wore the moniker “Colonel” given to him by the nursing staff at Sunrise Brighton Gardens in San Juan Capistrano right to the end.