Robert Ward Parker, 94, a Colorado ski industry visionary and a World War II veteran who served in the 10th Mountain Division, passed peacefully on June 29, 2017. Parker was a powerful influence in the early days of Colorado skiing and a founder of Colorado Ski Country USA.
Parker served three years with the 10th Mountain Division in Europe, where he was decorated by the U.S. Army for his heroic deeds and cool demeanor under pressure. After the war, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and served five years as the editor of Skiing Magazine.
In 1962, Parker connected with Pete Seibert, another 10th Mountain Division veteran, and helped launch the Vail ski area. He became the first Marketing Director at Vail, later serving as the Publicity Director and finally as Senior Vice President of Operations.
Parker had a significant impact on the Colorado ski industry. He quickly became known as a marketing genius, attracting international attention for his resort and the state of Colorado by building a family-friendly reputation, pioneering joint marketing ventures and working with the U.S. Olympic ski team and professional ski racers.
Parker originally coined the phrase “Ski Country USA” for Vail, but in 1963 he bestowed the moniker on the region’s new ski resort marketing organization, Colorado Ski Country USA. He was the force behind the first Colorado Ski Country economic impact study and put the results of the study to use in support of policies that benefitted the ski industry.
He was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 1980 and the National Ski Hall of Fame in 1985.
Bob Parker will be remembered for his warm personality, his dedication to preserving public lands, his big-picture thinking and his unfettered love for Colorado skiing.