Ford K. Sayre Memorial Ski Council: Skiing Since 1936
Though born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, Ford K. Sayre was a New Englander at heart. He learned to ski at Dartmouth College as an undergraduate, and even then he encouraged friends to take up the infant sport.
Ford’s love of the outdoors and the spirit of New England kept him in New Hampshire after graduation, and he continued his close association with the College through the Dartmouth Outing Club. It was on a joint Dartmouth-Smith College trip to Mt. Moosilauke organized by him, that he met his future wife, Peggy.
During the depression years, Ford Sayre worked at the Hanover Inn. It occurred to him that he might stimulate the Inn’s winter business by making ski lessons available to children of guests. Peggy Sayre, now an accomplished skier in her own right, joined Ford in the early ski school venture.
At the same time, Ford recognized that many local children were unable to learn to ski or to afford the simple equipment of the day. He decided to set up a ski school for rural children and did so at a hill in Hanover Center, New Hampshire.
Ford Sayre enlisted in the Army Air Corps in August 1942. His learn-to-ski program continued under Peggy Sayre’s supervision, with frequent advice and encouragement from Ford in his letters home from his Spokane, Washington base. On July 23, 1944, at age 34, he was killed in a crash during a War Bond Drive exhibition.
After the war, through the efforts of Peggy Sayre and other local organizers, the Ford Sayre Memorial Ski School was formed. In the winter of 1945-46, over hundreds of children joined the classes. In 1950, a variety of children’s skiing organizations in the Hanover area merged their activities into the Ford K. Sayre Memorial Ski Council.
Though there have been some changes, the Ski Council has never lost the inspiration for the kind of instruction program that was the dream of Ford K. Sayre.
The video below provides a great history of Ford Sayre. Produced in 1984 by Ford Sayre parents with the help of a grant, it traces the start of the Ford Sayre program through the development of Olympic contenders.