SVSEF Mourns the Passing of Gary Black, Jr.

Gary Black, Jr. with daughter, Lexi (center), wife, Heather (far left) and guests at the 2016 Janss Pro-Am Classic.

The world has become an emptier place with the passing of Gary Black, Jr.
Black, 75, peacefully slipped away from this physical realm at home in Sun Valley surrounded by his beloved family on Saturday, February 25. Diagnosed with cancer last fall, Gary spent his remaining months how he spent much of his life; reveling in his family and friends, enjoying lively conversations, appreciating the great outdoors, the sport of skiing and enjoying a glass of fine spirits – it was a glass that was always half full – as Gary’s vantage point on life.
Scott McGrew, SVSEF alpine director, recalled, “Gary was larger than life. He was motivated by the grace of the sport, by the power of its characters and the richness of its history. He was a visionary of the best kind; selfless, thought-provoking and persistent in his quest to lead an adventurous and inspired life. It was impossible not to get caught up in his boyish enthusiasm for everything he engaged – from skiing and family, to quiet and thoughtful moments with friends.”
Gary’s unwavering interest in the sport of skiing and the outdoors budded with his service on the National Ski Patrol, took him from Oregon Ridge, Md., to Squaw Valley, California, and Portillo, Chile. Gary was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, where his family legacy lay with the Baltimore Sun. He purchased Ski Racing magazine in 1984. At the time, it was a small publication. As publisher and CEO,  Gary grew the magazine over the course of two decades into what it is today; a source of news and inspiration to the ski racing community, unparalleled in its commitment to telling the story of the growth of American skiing.
Ski Racing magazine remarked, “The world lost one of the greatest patrons of American ski racing yesterday,” said current Publisher and Chief Operating Officer Claire Abbe Brown. “Thanks to Gary’s passion for ski racing and extensive knowledge of journalism, our sport has a news medium that chronicles our sport with pride and professionalism to keep American ski racing visible as a world leader in winter sport. He was an incredible leader to our entire staff, someone we all deeply respected, and we all appreciate the opportunities he afforded us to cover the sport we love.”
Gary received numerous awards for his achievements in journalism: the Blegen Award, the FIS Journalist Award, the International Association of Ski Journalists (AIJS) lifetime achievement award and the International Skiing History Association (ISHA) lifetime achievement award.
Moving to Sun Valley in 1995, Gary and wife, Heather, raised their daughter Alexandra (Lexi), who joined older half-sisters Amanda and Serena. Committed to winter sports with a special affinity for alpine skiing, Gary joined the board of directors at the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation in August of 2003, serving for six years, including as board president from 2007-2009 and vice-president from 2006-2007. Although his term ended in 2009, Gary was committed to the endeavors of the organization, and stayed on as an honorary board member through 2012. His enthusiasm for the sport remained influential beyond the valley, as he also served as a trustee at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation.
“Gary’s passion for snowsports led him to both foundation boards, the SVSEF and U.S. Ski Team,” said Paul Fremont-Smith, Jr., who served with Black as a trustee for both organizations. “He was passionate about both the development of youth ski programs and the reportage of the sport and results through the World Cup and Olympic levels. He was as aggressive in his reporting as he was skiing on the mountain. He liked to go fast and he was a remarkably good skier. At 75 he would be doing non-stops.”
McGrew added, “When I was just starting off as a young coach, Gary took me under his wing an provided guidance, counsel and endless encouragement. His depth of knowledge and storytelling savvy captivated and inspired me, and so many others, to join him for the adventure. I will always cherish the time I was able to spend with Gary as some of the most formative of my life. Thank you for everything, G.Black, Jr. May the adventure continue!”
The thoughts and prayers of the entire Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation family are with Gary’s family and friends, including wife, Heather, daughters, Amanda, Serena, and Lexi, as well his three grandchildren, Alexander, Adair and Harrison. We remember Gary with great affection, respect and appreciation for all he meant to us and the lasting legacy and imprint he made on the sport of skiing and the lives he touched. His amazing laugh will echo through the ages.

Reporting by Julia Seyferth