Mason Beekley (deceased)
Year Inducted: 2011
Born: Feb. 9, 1927--West Hartford, Connecticut
Died: August 20, 2001--Beverly Hills, California
Mason Beekley founded the International Skiing History Association, bequeathing to the sport the world's most outstanding magazine about its history, the world's largest website dedicated to ski history, and an awards program honoring authors and filmmakers who keep alive the sport's rich past. He also left behind one of the world's greatest collections of ski art and a library of 2,000 ski books, a treasure for ski historians and researchers.
Beekley grew up in Connecticut. He skied enthusiastically as a young boy, climbing hills, or pulled uphill on rope tows. As a student at Princeton, he began to collect ski books. It was a passion that never left him over the next 50 years. After graduation, Mason taught at the Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Massachusetts, where he coached skiing.
By 1990, he'd expanded his library to more than 1500 ski books. He began to collect exquisite pieces of ski art, including paintings, rare ski posters, magazine illustrations, sculptures, and ski pins. Swanns Galleries in New York says that Beekley almost single-handedly created the market in rare ski poster art.
In 1991, Mason ratcheted his passion for ski history to a higher level. That was when he wrote to more than a hundred prominent skiers and ski historians around the world inviting them to join what he called the International Skiing History Association. The new association's goal, he said, was to "disseminate and to help preserve the heritage of skiing, to coordinate information about the sport's history, and to encourage communication among people around the world interested in skiing history."
He also wanted ISHA to encourage association and friendship among skiers who love the sport's past. In 1992, he organized the first gathering of ISHA members at Whistler, BC. The next year, the gathering took place at Sun Valley. Bill Janss and Gretchen Fraser spoke at it and John Jay showed one of his classic films.
By the time of the 1993 Sun Valley meeting Mason had recruited 230 associate members of ISHA, who had contributed $14,000. Mason had spent $41,000 and made up the shortfall of $27,000 out of his own pocket. He continued to subsidize the association's work over the next ten years.
The key to make ISHA work was its publication. In 1992, his fledgling ISHA took over the small Maine-based magazine "Snow News" published by Glen Parkinson. It was renamed Skiing Heritage and Morton Lund was appointed editor.
In 2001, Beekley died after a long battle with cancer. His sensational collection of art and books moved from his Ski Aerie gallery in New Hartford, Connecticut to Mammoth Lakes, California. There the collection remained until 2010.
Today ISHA has more then 2,000 members/subscribers. To memorialize him, ISHA organized the Mason Beekley Memorial Lecture during its annual skiing history week.