Wilhelm (Bill) Klein died on November 23, 2013, at his home in Incline Village, Nevada, at the age of 96. He was a longtime instructor, ski-school director and ski-shop owner at the Sugar Bowl resort near Lake Tahoe, California.
Klein was born in Austria and moved to the United States in 1934. In the winter of 1936, he and his brother Fred opened the Klein Ski Schools at Donner Summit. They received 50 cents a lesson and free room and board at the Clair Tappaan Lodge, which had just been built by the Sierra Club. By 1938, they had trained more instructors and were teaching up to 150 skiers every weekend. In 1940, they helped to organize the California Ski Instructors Association. During World War II, he was a staff sergeant with the 10th Mountain Division, teaching skiing, rock climbing and survival techniques at Colorado’s Camp Hale.
In 1945, he took over the Sugar Bowl Ski School and Sport Shop. In 1957, he retired from the school—handing the position over to Luggi Foeger—and focused on the shop, working alongside his wife, Anneliese. When they retired in 1993, Sugar Bowl presented the Kleins with a Lifetime of Friendship award.
Bill received numerous other awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award from PSIA and the Charley Proctor Award from the North American Snowsports Journalists’ Association (NASJA) as a Sugar Bowl Ski Pioneer. In 1999, Skiing History published a cover story on Klein (Second Issue / Volume 11 Number 2). To read the article online, go to www.skiinghistory.org and click on “Indexes to Ski Periodicals” for instructions.
Bill skied every winter until the age of 90. He is survived by Anneliese; his brother and sister-in-law, Norbert and Annemarie Anger; and four nephews. —Mark McLaughlin (Sierra Sun and Longboards to Olympics: A Century of Tahoe Winter Sports)