New Jersey ski resort pioneer

Passing Date: 
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Margaret Mary Kurlander, 84, passed away on June 6 in Salt Lake City, with her children John, Jamie and Judy at her side. 

Peg grew up in North Arlington, New Jersey, earned a bachelor’s degree from New Jersey State Teachers College and became an elementary school teacher. 

After joining the Twin Hickory Ski Club, she met and married club president Jack Kurlander. In 1963 the couple bought a farm on the side of Hamburg Mountain in Vernon Township, New Jersey, with the intention of building a ski area. Along with John and Anna Fitzgerald, they created Great Gorge, opening in 1965. After several warm, dry winters, in 1971 the area was sold to Vernon Valley, the adjoining resort on Hamburg Mountain.

In 1975 the couple opened Hidden Valley Ski and Tennis Club in neighboring Vernon, run as a private club. The following year Jack had a heart attack and Peg stepped in as general manager.  The couple later launched Crystal Springs Swim and Tennis and Black Bear Golf Course.

Jack Kurlander suffered a fatal heart attack in 2006.

Peg’s book The Tow and I chronicles her adventures as Jack’s life partner. She was a lifelong music lover, a piano teacher, and organist at local Catholic churches. She was an avid tennis player, golfer and ski instructor, and served as a volunteer in Park City for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

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