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Wallace 'Bunny' Bertram, believed to have founded America's first...

WOODSTOCK, Vt. -- Wallace 'Bunny' Bertram, believed to have founded America's first ski area, died at his home Thursday, five weeks after being elected to the National Ski Hall of Fame. He was 73.

Born in Middletown, R.I., Bertram began his association with skiing at Dartmouth College, where he captained the winter sports team. After graduating in 1931, he coached teams there until 1934.

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He then installed a rope tow on a hillside at Gilbert's Farm, just north of Woodstock, and operated what was to be the first ski area in America.

He moved the area three years later to what now is known as Suicide 6 and operated the facility for 25 years before selling it to Rockresorts, Inc., owned by Lawrence Rockefeller.

During Bertram's ownership, the area attracted ski champions from all over the world and was a prime training ground for American Olympians from nearby Dartmouth.

He is credited with many other American ski firsts, including creation of the Mid-Vermont Junior Ski Council, the nation's first youth racing program and the first certification tests for ski instructors.

He also hosted the country's oldest continuous ski race, the Fisk Trophy Race, and was founding president of the oldest ski club in the country, the Woodstock Ski Runners.

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Services are scheduled for Monday in Woodstock.

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