Nordic official, Vail pioneer, retailer

Passing Date: 
Sunday, August 5, 2018

Richard H. Bohr, who set up Vail’s original financial systems and, as a successful ski shop entrepreneur, helped to found one of the first buying groups, died August 5 following a brief illness. He was 97 years old.

Dick grew up in Boston, skiing cross country on the neighboring golf course. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan, class of 1943, with a B.S. in pre-med, missing his graduation ceremony as he entered the Army and attended Officer Candidate School. He commanded an ordnance depot in Shanghai, retrieving and repairing U.S. Army vehicles. At the close of World War II he returned to Ohio and earned his MBA at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.  

While president of the Cleveland Ski Club, Dick organized the purchase of land which became the Big Creek Ski Area, still operated by the club. He became an officer and director of USSA’s Central Division, and in 1960, served as assistant secretary of race for nordic events at the Squaw Valley Olympics. In 1961 he married Georgette Brusak.

In the spring of 1963 Dick was recruited by Vail Associates. As both a director and vice president/treasurer he developed the corporation’s financial planning, reporting and accounting operations. Concurrently he opened the Ski Haus in Cleveland Heights, staffing the store with certified instructors and Central Division racers.

Dick opened a second store in 1964. The chain expanded to summer sports and operated its own ski school. By 1966 the retail business required his full attention and he left Vail. He was  a founder of the Sports Specialists Ltd buying group and served as its president for seven years. He remained active with Central Division, helping to develop the Skier’s Code of Conduct. He provided bindings and technical support to Dr. Eugene Bahniuk’s ski safety research at Case Western Reserve.

Dick was a kind mentor to generations of his ski shop employees, many of whom went on to ski business rep or executive jobs. He sold the Ski Haus in 2005. In retirement, Dick and Georgette skied, played tennis and went on many canoeing, kayaking and fishing trips. –Seth Masia

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