WWII veteran leaves legacy of service and love for Steamboat

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In 2017, Crosby Perry-Smith, third from left, visited the memorial to soldiers who trained at Camp Hale on the Tennessee Pass with his family members, left to right, grandson Thomas Allen , grandson Kristopher Allen, daughter Robin Allen, son-in-law Tod Allen, great-grandson John Crosby Allen, granddaughter Anya Bryan and husband Josh Bryan.
Allen Family / Courtesy Photo

Crosby Perry-Smith, the last living Steamboat Springs resident to be among the 10e Mountain Division, died last week at the age of 98 in Casey’s Pond.

“He specialized in demolitions and he was (stationed) in the Po Valley, Monte Belvedere, Lake Garda and Riva Ridge,” Perry-Smith’s daughter Robin Allen said. “He was proud to be part of the 86th Infantry.”

His legacy is written in the history books as part of the 10e Mountain Division’s impact on World War II in Europe, but it is also felt in Steamboat Springs, where he spent years and helped shape the community.

“He was badass, but everyone will tell you that,” said legendary ski racer Jim Barrows. “He was our coach. He wrote a tough case for being a good runner – he showed you how to be fast. He instilled an attitude in everyone to have a tough attitude and that’s how you do it. It was definitely Crosby.

Perry-Smith may have been born in Cape May, New Jersey on November 9, 1923, but his love of skiing and the outdoors made him an ideal candidate for Steamboat Springs, even before moving here after World War II. world.

His story begins much the same as those who grew up in Steamboat Springs: he was on his first set of skis at age 5, ski jumping soon after and started competing at a high level at 10 years old, when he took his first flight in Lake Placid, New York.

He won the 18-year-old class at the National Ski Jumping Championships at the age of 14. He set the springboard record at the Maine State Championships in 1942 before landing at Syracuse University, where he competed for the ski team in all four events – Alpine Skiing, Nordic Skiing, Jumping on skis and Nordic combined. He also won the New York Intercollegiate Jumping and Combined title.

By the time Perry-Smith reached Syracuse, however, the United States was locked in World War II. Perry-Smith enlisted in the Reserve Corps training program when he arrived in Syracuse, and within a year he was called up to serve. He volunteered to be part of the 10e Mountain Division because he had heard that the service would include skiing, climbing and other skills he knew.

Crosby Perry-Smith as a young man, ski jumping in leather boots and on wooden skis. He was director and head ski coach of all disciplines at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs in the mid-1950s.
Courtesy picture

He went to bootcamp in Georgia at Camp Wheeler, trained at Camp Hale on the Tennessee Pass near Leadville, and ended up in Texas at Camp Swift before being sent to Italy to help the Allies close the gates. of the war.

Perry-Smith has seen action at places like Riva Ridge, Monte Belvedere and Montese. He saw impassioned action and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for distinguishing himself in the fighting at Lake Garda near Navene.

After the war, Perry-Smith returned to the United States and was drawn to Steamboat Springs because of the town’s ski jumps. He was looked after by Art and Lucy Bogue as he worked to improve the jumps, and Allen said he had become a longtime family friend.

Perry-Smith competed with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club from 1946 to 1950 while attending Western State College, now known as Western Colorado University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Commerce.

While at Gunnison, he was a founding member of the Western State College ski team. He also played a role in obtaining Sven Wiik from Sweden to Colorado. Wiik was a big proponent of Nordic skiing in Colorado and later built the Scandinavian Lodge in Steamboat Springs. Perry-Smith was named to the national ski jumping team that traveled to Oslo, Norway for the 1952 Olympics.

After college, he worked for the Federal Civil Service as a Technical Advisor to the Army at Fort Carson, where he trained Special Forces, Rangers, Paratroopers, and Regimental Combat Teams.

Eventually he returned to Steamboat Springs with his wife, Winona, and daughters Clarinda and Robin. He ran Howelsen Hill and worked for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club as head ski coach. In the summer, he manages and operates the downtown swimming pool while teaching swimming.

Crosby Perry-Smith, 91, visits Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic Director Todd Wilson in 2015. Perry-Smith, who coached Wilson as a young athlete at Winter Park, was in town Wednesday night for the celebration of 100 years of Howelsen Hill Ski Area. Perry-Smith ran Howelsen Hill in the late 1950s and taught young skiers at Steamboat Springs in all four disciplines of skiing. The city held a ceremony that included a speech by Perry-Smith and the lighting of the number 100 on the Howelsen Hill jump tower to recognize this historic year for the ski area, which is the oldest in the United States at the west of the Mississippi River.
John F. Russell / Steamboat Pilot and Today

Petty-Smith left Steamboat in the 1960s for Sacramento, California, working for Acacia Mutual Life Insurance. But his passion for ski jumping did not dissipate under the Californian sun, and he was head of the ski jumping hill at the 1960 Olympics, held at the resort now known as Palisades Tahoe.

He returned to Denver in 1970 where he continued to work for Acacia, but was soon contacted by Thor Groswold who persuaded him to lead the jumping programs at Winter Park from 1970 to 1985.

Perry-Smith’s accomplishments in skiing earned him the Halstead Trophy for Outstanding Contribution to the Sport of Skiing in 1982. He was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 1992, the Western State College Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, and the National Ski Jumping. Hall of Fame in 2012.

Perry-Smith lived in Ouray in his later years, where he continued to enjoy skiing, hiking, swimming, and soaking at Ouray’s pool. At age 70, Perry-Smith was introduced to art and began painting landscapes under the guidance of Brooklyn College art professor Janet Carlile.

He returned to Steamboat in 2014 and continued to ski with his family and friends until he was 95. He is survived by his daughters Clarinda Spees of Twin Falls, Idaho, and Robin Allen of Steamboat Springs. He had six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. A celebration of life will be held from 2-5 p.m. on November 12 at Howelsen Hill.

“He loved being with his family,” Allen said. “He was so grateful to his family and friends and he will be missed.”


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