Dick Needham

No one served longer as editor of SKI Magazine in its 75-year history than Richard (Dick) Needham. He died Dec. 12 in Sarasota, Fla. from complications of open heart surgery. He was 73.


Needham served as the magazine’s editor from 1974-1994 after joining the staff in 1972. He had held editorial posts at Saturday Review and in financial publishing. The lifelong sailor also wrote for Yachting Magazine.


“Dick Needham edited SKI during the ultimate years of magazine publishing’s golden age,” wrote John Fry, president of the International Skiing History Association (ISHA), who proceeded Needham as SKI’s editor. “Circulation and advertising numbers peaked. He shepherded SKI through the great eras of Olympic and World Cup racing, freestyle, the building of great ski resorts.”


He edited SKI Magazine’s Encyclopedia of Skiing, published by Harper & Row and authored Ski, Fifty Years in North America, 230 pages of color photography and histories celebrating the magazine’s 50th anniversary. He also wrote Ski Fever for Warren Miller Productions.


Needham is credited for launching SkiWee to raise the standards of ski instruction for kids at resorts. SKI promoted the program extensively.


He edited a monthly newsletter, Ski Tracks, from 1996 to 2002 after retiring from SKI. He then served as editor of Skiing Heritage, the official magazine of ISHA and the U.S. National Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, which he edited for the next eight years.


Needham’s love for skiing began in college at Caberfae, Mich. And he went on to ski 90 mountains in 14 countries. He has an MA degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. He was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and was aboard one of the ships engaged in the Cuban blockade.


He is survived by his wife, Irene, a daughter, two sons, and six grandchildren. Services will be held Monday, Dec. 17, 11:30 a.m. at the Church of St. Patrick, 7099 Bee Ridge Rd., in Sarasota. Contributions in lieu of flowers may be sent to ISHA, 610 Palms Ave., P.O. Box 191, Ishpeming, MI 49849 or Resurrection House, 507 Kumquat Court, Sarasota, Fl., where he was a volunteer.


Photo: Dick Needham (SkiingHistory.org)