Joseph Brooks Dodge Jr.

Joseph Brooks Dodge Jr., 88, passed away at his home in Jackson, N.H., in his son’s arms, on Jan. 17, 2018. He was the son of the late Joe Dodge of AMC fame, and Cherstine Dodge.

He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 61 years, Ann Schafer Dodge, who died in March 2017. He was also predeceased by his devoted sister, Ann Dodge Middleton.

He is survived by his two children: Joseph Brooks Dodge III, and Christl Dodge; their spouses, Roxanne Dodge and Keith Bodenhamer; three grandchildren, Dominique Dodge, Michelle Dodge and her spouse Shamar Whyte, and Ivan Olin; and two great-grandchildren, Langston and Tennyson Whyte.

Brooks Jr., or “Hirum,” as his dad called him, was born in North Conway, N.H., in 1929, and had a rugged upbringing in Pinkham Notch, in the shadow of Mount Washington.

He began working on the AMC hut crew at 13 years old. From 1943 to 1946 he worked at Madison Hut, and was hutmaster in 1945 and 1946. Summers from 1947 through 1953 he worked on a construction crew throughout the hut system. Reportedly, in 1948, when he was working on construction crew at Lakes of the Clouds, one night he and Bill Putnam were the pranksters who bearded the Old Man of the Mountain by hanging pine trees from his chin.

Brooks was brought up in an era when alpine skiing was just taking hold in America. His passion for skiing began at an early age and would end up landing him in the U.S. Skiing Hall of Fame and with the reputation of one of the pioneers of extreme skiing.

While still a teenager in the 1940s, Brooks completed several first descents in Tuckerman Ravine including “Dodge’s Drop.” He added a total of 11 skiable routes in Tuckerman’s by the 1950s. Brooks raced through college on the Dartmouth ski team.

He attended Dartmouth with a scholarship, washing pots on the side, and graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1953. He started with the class of 51, but graduated in 53 due to leaves of absence for three semesters to compete in the 1950 FIS, and the 1952 Olympics.

Brooks served in the Army from 1953 through 1955, and on his second assignment to Garmisch, Germany, he raced on the Army ski team. He participated in the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, achieving a sixth place in GS in Oslo in 1952, and a fourth place in the Slalom in Cortina in 1956.

In these years he also helped develop innovations in tighter ski wear and safer bindings for racers. In the mid 1950’s Brooks was part of a team that started developing the Wildcat Mountain Ski Area, laying out and cutting some of the original trails.

He married Ann Schafer in Switzerland in 1956. After settling in Cambridge, Mass., he attended Harvard Business School earning an MBA in 1958. He went on to work for Polaroid in 1958/1959, and in 1960 he joined Cabot, Cabot and Forbes, a commercial real estate development firm in Boston.

By the early 1970s he became a senior vice president. In these same years, in addition to raising two children, he and Ann were running charter ski trips to Europe from 1960 through 1972. They also brought the first groups of skiers in 1965 to heli-ski in the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies with Hans Gmoser, who was the pioneer of heli-skiing and founder of CMH. They brought groups annually through the early 70’s until the success of CMH made the arrangement of groups unnecessary. Ann and Brooks continued to ski at CMH for many years afterward.

At mid-life Brooks developed a passion for flying. He became a competitive glider pilot and he and Ann were licensed pilots. For several years he and Ann ran a soaring center in Glen, N.H., and then in 1978, Brooks had a life -changing glider accident during a competition.

His wife, Ann, was instrumental in his long recovery and he reinvented himself to become an avid bicyclist, cycling around the world with Ann and their friends. Despite a fused ankle, he continued to ski and developed new techniques to accommodate his limitations.

Brooks’ love for the mountains and the outdoors pervaded his life. He had an analytical mind and he loved to create model railroads. He had a competitive spirit, always going after the elegant form.

He is quoted as saying, “I was interested in skiing elegantly, precisely and well, from the top to the bottom.”

In his later years he adored all his grandchildren and was proud of their accomplishments. He was blessed by having regular contact with his granddaughters and he taught all his grandchildren to play chess and his beloved game of cribbage.

A funeral service will be held on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 11 a.m., the Jackson Community Church, on Main St. in Jackson, N.H., for all who would like to attend.

Conway Daily Sun

My beloved grandfather, Joseph Brooks Dodge, son of Joseph Brooks Dodge, died on Thursday morning at the age of 88. He died quickly, in his own bed, with my father at his side. He lived an extraordinary life as an Olympic skier, glider pilot, and world adventurer, but to me he was always just grandad- ever ready with tall tales of his youth in Pinkham Notch, his days as hutmaster at Madison, or that time he and his friend put a beard on the old man of the mountain (yes that was him).

He loved cribbage above all games and his greatest pleasure in his later years was to sit down for a round or three with me or my dad or my sister. He lost the love of his life, my grandmother Ann, last spring and it gives me some peace to know they are together at last. Like his father before him, my grandad always addressed God, directly and indirectly, as “the fella upstairs” and I can only hope that he is now “upstairs” too, playing a round of three-hand with his father Joe and his sister Anne at the big cribbage board in the sky, in the company of my grandmother and great-grandmother, Cherstine.

My grandad taught me many things- how to ski, how to make a proper pie crust, how to tell a good story, but most of all he nourished in me a deep, abiding, and unshakeable love of the White Mountains, which he referred to as “God’s Country.” Every time I scramble up the Wildcat Ridge Trail, or throw my skis over my shoulder in Tuckerman Ravine, every time I track a deer in the snow, or see the shingled roof of a hut peek through the clouds, or when I hear the song of a white throated sparrow, I’ll feel as close to him as I ever did.

When I left home at Christmas I had every expectation I would see him again. Now I find myself longing for just one more game of crib, for one more story, the chance to tell him I loved him one last time; luckily we did all of those things last time we were together and I’m grateful for the swift and peaceful manner of his passing.

Contributed by his loving granddaughter and OH Dominique Dodge  

Comments

  1. Larry Eldredge

    Brookie and I worked in the huts at around the same time, 1949-53. By the time I started work at Madison, he had already moved on to the Construction Crew, so we never did actually work together, despite overlapping in time. The result is that I don’t have any good stories about him or about his various (and nefarious) deeds around the mountains. But I would like to add that whenever we met up, I always found him a congenial companion, ready to share a beer or a story or a hike. I never played either chess or cribbage with him, skied with him only once (at Cranmore on an icy day when I found the slope unmanageable but he sailed down it slick as a smelt), and I enjoyed his company whenever we happened to meet up.

    Many years later, in fact about ten years ago, I met his granddaughter Dominique when she was working over here in Oxford, and again I enjoyed reminiscing with her about the huts, the hills, and her grandfather. I found her tribute to him very moving.

    I know I am late with my comment, but it’s not always easy to keep up. Greetings and cheers to all–Larry Eldredge