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Cedar Valley Ski Club caps half-century journey

Cedar Valley Ski Club caps half-century journey
Photo provided
In this Richard Nixon-era photo, Cedar Valley Ski Club members (l-r) George North, Tombo Freeze, Ken Crooks, Larry Brewer, Don Blonigen, Dick Means, Rod Johnson, Bob Prunty, Howard Fisher and Steve Exline gather for a group shot during one of the club’s annual excursions.

By John Burbridge

CHARLES CITY — Penned by founding members Larry Brewer and George North, “A Short History of the Cedar Valley Ski Club” is anything but.

Unless you consider more than a half century as being “short”.

What started as a suggestion by North to form a stag trip to a celebrated new ski area in Vail, Colorado back in 1965, the fledgling group of six Charles City men at the time went on to blaze through a lot of snow and altitude during the subsequent annual trips to the upper reaches of the Continental United States while rising in numbers during the process.

“Back then, we were a bunch of young guys,” Brewer said. “We liked to have fun. Sometimes, we got ourselves into a little trouble.”

And some of the “trouble” Brewer is willing to take blame for … like the “mix up” when the club was double booked into a condo at Aspen with the Oklahoma State pom-pom girls.

Though it was vowed such a “fiasco” wouldn’t happen again, word got out and the club gained several new members for the next trip.

By the time “A Short History” came out commemorating the club’s 40th anniversary, nearly 50 local skiers made at least one trip as part of the CVSC entourage.

Brewer, who helped organize many of the annual trips and was one of the more advanced skiers on the club, never missed an excursion through the first 40 years.

“That’s the reason I started coming here,” said Brewer, who’s a regular at the Charles City Family YMCA, where he uses the exercise equipment. “I wanted to stay in shape so I could continue skiing.”

Even at 85 years old, Brewer looks like he can still master the slopes. So does fellow YMCA and CVSC member John Newton.

But with the recent passing of one of the original CVSC members, Andy Melrose, the few active and surviving members decided it was time to cap the extended adventure.

On Nov. 17, Brewer and Newton made a tile dedication to the Stacie Lynn Uetz Recognition Wall at the Charles City Family YMCA to honor the Founding Fathers of the Cedar Valley Ski Club. The gesture closed the final chapter in the club’s colorful “history”.

Brewer and Newton were also present for the tile dedication in memory of Melrose.

“Our numbers have gotten too small to continue to organize trips,” Brewer said. “We had a little money left in the club’s bank account, so we decided to donate it to the recognition wall.”

The wall was established on Oct. 13, 1982, nearly a year after Stacie Lynn Uetz died at the age of 10 from Reyes Syndrome. Before her death, Stacie was an active member of the YMCA.

The wall itself is adjacent to the YMCA’s check-in desk and is composed of a ceramic mural of Stacie, surrounded by 4-by-6-inch ceramic tiles. Tiles are sold to interested parties and organizations for engraving in recognition of special events, individuals and groups.

Proceeds from tile sales are used for youth activities at the YMCA.

In “A Short History”, Brewer, North and club member/editor Tombo Freeze were cognizant enough to thank their wives for allowing them to participate in the annual trips that traditionally took place every third weekend in January while acknowledging that “Most of them are happy to be rid of us for a week.”

All good things must come to an end.