Stanley C. DuRose, Jr. (1923 – 2010)

Stan DuRose

Stan DuRose

Stanley C. DuRose Jr, age 86, passed away at the Hospice Care Center in Fitchburg, WI on Sunday, March 21, 2010.

Stanley was born on October 26, 1923, in Joliet, Montana, to Stanley Sr. and Wilhelmena (Zwicky) DuRose. He and his family moved to Madison in 1926. Stanley was employed by the Wisconsin Department of Insurance and held various positions. In 1948 to 1965, he was Deputy Commissioner of Insurance and in 1965 to 1969, he was appointed Commissioner of Insurance. He was also employed as a Senior Vice President for CUNA Mutual Insurance Society from 1970 to 1988. He was a member of the Casualty Actuarial Society and the American Academy of Actuaries. He will be remembered especially for his volunteer work at the Blackhawk Ski Club in Middleton, helping build ski jumps and down hill slopes so that children could learn these sports and enjoy them just as he had for many years.

Stanley is survived by his wife, Lorraine, and many relatives, especially nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and his twin brother, George DuRose.Graveside services were held at Oak Hill Cemetery in Waterloo. Memorial donations may be made to the Blackhawk Ski Club, P.O. Box 628094, Middleton, WI 53562-8094 or a charity of your choice.

An era has ended with the passing of Stan DuRose who contributed so much to the sport of ski jumping. Stan’s home base was Madison Wisconsin and the Blackhawk Ski Club, but his influence spread over the mid-west and indeed the entire U.S.

Stan made his living in the insurance field, but he trained as an engineer. His training and his inclination made him a natural to design ski jumps, both the flight profiles and the structures, and Stan did that job for decades, becoming the Chairman of the USSA Committee on Ski Jump Design. He designed ski jumps all over the Central Division and scattered around the country, including the Westby big hill and the Olympic jump in Squaw Valley.

A long-time bachelor, Stan lived at home well into middle age but also took his share of road trips. He was a regular at Central and USSA conventions, where he was never shy to offer his opinions, even unpopular opinions. But when the smoke cleared, even people who argued with Stan went away respecting him.

However, Stan’s greatest impact was at home, at the ski jumping complex of the Blackhawk Ski Club at Tomahawk Ridge west of Middleton. Stan’s official title of Ski Club Secretary didn’t even hint at the breadth of his contributions to his club. Each fall in the early years, Stan would organize periodic Club meetings, more pep rallies than organizational sessions, always kicked off with a ski movie, and ending perhaps with plans for a work party out at the jumps.

Stan directs ex-jumper Wade Cattel who brought out his own bulldozer and back hoe to excavate the new landing of the current 30 meter hill.

Stan directs ex-jumper Wade Cattel who brought out his own bulldozer and back hoe to excavate the new landing of the current 30 meter hill.

Work party or not, Stan was a regular on weekends at Tomahawk Ridge. He always planned and directed the large projects, but at slow times, he might show up at the hill for a half day to clean up or perform modest tasks alone or with one or two assistants. He spent so much time out there that one might have thought that he was married to the hill.

In the first few years after WW-II, when the Hoyt Park 20 meter jump was new, Stan took charge of setting the takeoffs. The scaffold was wide enough for two tracks, one with a higher takeoff for skilled jumpers, the other with a lower, longer takeoff for beginners. And Stan was often the first one to show up after supper, turning on the lights and making sure that everything was set. Then he would stay around to coach the jumpers and perhaps to rake the landing before the lights went out.

He didn’t often take any rides himself. Stan was a strong alpine skier and he was good at cross country, but frankly he wasn’t much of a ski jumper. But, he loved the sport and put his life into it. For the second half of the twentieth century, he was the backbone of the Blackhawk Ski Club. On any weekend summer day in the 1970s or ’80s, you could drop by the hill and have a good chance of finding Stan out there. You’d likely find him working alone, dressed in coveralls, a big wrench in his hand, laboring over a pump or compressor for the snow-making system.

Stan was a hands on kind of guy who favored low-tech solutions. Why hire a bulldozer if a few hours of shoveling would do the job? … or a few days? … or weeks? (His helpers didn’t always agree!) When a new ski jump tower was going up, he would rig a block and tackle with a one inch rope, pulled by a tractor, or even by a car, and up went a big telephone pole, or even a two-pole framework. But the system worked and no pole ever came crashing back down.

Stan also had a sense of history, and he would snap pictures to document projects and improvements at the ski hill. One storage space in his basement is packed with an extensive collection of Ski Club materials: pictures, documents and records, posters and programs from a half-century of competitions.

Stan was the competition director for the annual Blackhawk ski jumping tournaments, doing the registration, creating the start lists, and issuing the jumper’s numbers. On other weekends, he might drive to another event, perhaps in Westby or even as far as Iron Mountain (left) just as an interested spectator. One year he even served as the P.A. announcer at a competition hosted by the Thunderbird Ski Club out of Milwaukee.

When the club purchased the ski jump property in 1947, the only trees were on the steep hillside. The area behind the tower was so flat and wide open that at a tournament in the late 1940s, one competitor arrived in a private airplane, landing in the pasture behind the tower. At half time, he took off again, then circled around and dropped a memorial wreath on the landing hill, before landing again to take his final jump. Each spring Stan ordered hundreds of baby pine trees which teams of young ski jumpers planted on various parts of the old pastures and hay fields behind the tower until today the whole area a pine forest, right out to the road.

Leaning over the fence at the big hill in Iron Mt. Mich. Stan chats with Blackhawk jumpers Russ Gessler (left) and Jack Statz (in goggles) during the 1955 Olympic trials.

Leaning over the fence at the big hill in Iron Mt. Mich. Stan chats with Blackhawk jumpers Russ Gessler (left) and Jack Statz (in goggles) during the 1955 Olympic trials.

The standard wisdom was not to mix alpine skiing with ski jumping in one club or at one area, but Stan always wanted to develop some alpine slopes at Tomahawk Ridge and in time he did. These have prospered, but somehow it appears that the Club has struck a balance between the alpine and jumping interests, with some cross country skiing and summer mountain biking thrown in round out the offerings.

Stan was well into his middle years when he developed a parcel of real estate in Madison below Hoyt Park, land that had been his father’s stone quarry. He held onto one choice lot where he built a home for himself, doing much of the work with his own hands. And he surprised many of his friends when he finally married. He described his new wife, Lorraine, as a lady at work whom he had known for years.

Stan didn’t do it all by himself. Indeed at boom times, he might hardly have been noticed in the crowd. And he was not one to draw attention to himself. But during the lean times, he was the prime mover, the driving force that kept the club vital and kept its facility up and running. There is a good chance that without Stan DuRose, the Blackhawk Ski Club might have folded years ago, and for sure, it would not be that same club without him. Thanks Stan.

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