Bill Bergman, co-founder of Keystone Resort and pioneer of the ski industry in Colorado passed away at his Keystone home after a brief illness on Monday, December 25, 2023, according to family members.
Bergman was born in Iowa in 1924. He served in World War II serving as a lead navigator in the Air Corps. Upon his return, he met his wife, Jane, on campus in Iowa City.
In 1949, Bergman became a lawyer. In 1952, he began taking annual ski trips to Colorado with wife Jane.
An Idea Amongst Friends
Captivated by Summit County, the couple purchased the Alhambra cabin on Montezuma Road not far from the area’s only operating ski mountain at the time, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.
Bergman befriended Max and Edna Dercum who long dreamt opening their own ski destination.
In the winter of 1968, while huddled in the cabin, the plan for what is today Keystone Resort was born. Bergman mentioned in an interview with the Summit Daily in 2020, “this is when the enticement began.”
Motivated and excited, Bergman spoke with investors as he returned to his law office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
A Denver economics professor advised him he would need approximately $25,000 from each investor.
Keystone Resort Opens
Just two years later, in 1970, Bergman’s determination paid off and Keystone Resort was a reality.
Bergman served as Keystone’s first president. Jane was the first chief marketer and helped spread the word by delivering brochures to local ski shops and college campuses.
Bergman’s son, Bill, moved to Keystone to help with the construction of Summit and Mountain House lodges.
In 1997, Keystone Resort was acquired by Vail Resorts.
Steve Corneillier was an employee of Keystone Resort from 1975 to 2019. Corneillier says he’ll cherish the conversations he would have over Sunday breakfast with Bergman.
“Both Bill and Jane were very opinionated, and I say that with a chuckle and good meaning,” Corneillier said. “They were very disciplined individuals, they were very focused and they provided some incredible leadership and direction that a little area like Keystone needed in order to compete with the bigger resorts.”
A Local Legend
Bergman remained very involved in the Summit County community throughout the years.
Last year, Bergman was the first signee for a petition that would eventually lead to the incorporation of Keystone in March and making it Colorado’s newest town.
While Bergman is known for co-founding Keystone Resort, his greatest passion was golf.
He played in the British Amateurs and with Arnold Palmer and other notable names in the U.S. Senior Opens.
Bergman founded the Summit County “Bergman Boys” golf group and is regarded as one of the godfathers of Summit golfing by friends and peers.
He sunk his fourth hole-in-one of his golf career at Keystone River Golf course just a few years ago at age 96.
As someone who “always gave his advice freely,” Bergman “was always available, whether you wanted it or not, for a golf tip,” his son, Bill, said.
Bergman’s son, Bill, still lives in Keystone.
Driving on the county’s roads “my dad would say it every time: ‘I’ve traveled most of the world, particularly mountainous regions in Europe, and Summit County is still the most beautiful spot I know.’”
Honor Bill Bergman’s legacy and influence in our community this season by skiing the newly opened Bergman’s Bowl.