Cover photo for Thomas A Corcoran's Obituary
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1931 Thomas 2017

Thomas A Corcoran

November 16, 1931 — June 27, 2017

NOVEMBER 16, 1931 - JUNE 27, 2017

Loving father, husband, grandfather, businessman, Waterville Valley Town Selectman and former Olympian, Thomas Armstrong Corcoran passed away Tuesday, June 27, 2017 in Charleston, South Carolina at the age of 85.

An accomplished ski racer on the U.S. Ski Team in the 1950s, past chairman of the National Ski Areas Association, and founder of New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley ski resort, Corcoran was one of the most decorated skiers of his era, moving on to become a pioneer in the ski resort industry, and a longtime director of the U.S. Ski Association. He was inducted into the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame in 1978.

Corcoran was born Nov. 16, 1931 in Yokohama, Japan and grew up in St. Jovite in Quebec's Laurentian Mountains. He attended Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire followed by Dartmouth College, graduating in 1954. After graduation, he spent two years in the Navy, active duty as a LTJG, posted to a destroyer escort out of Newport, Rhode Island.

In 1955 the Navy allowed him to try out for the 1956 U.S. Olympic Team in Cortina, Italy, which he made. They sent him to Chile and Argentina to train. Corcoran entered the Harvard Business School in the fall of 1956 and took leave of absences to participate in the 1958 FIS World Championships in Bad Gastein, Austria and several other races throughout Europe. He returned to Harvard Business School for his second year and tried out for the 1960 Olympic Team in the winter of 1959, which he also made. He earned his master’s degree from Harvard Business School in the spring of 1959.

Corcoran competed for the U.S. Ski Team at both the 1956 and 1960 Olympics, but his most brilliant performance was in the 1960 Olympics at Squaw Valley, after starting 24th he came within six-tenths of a second from becoming America's first man to win a medal. His fourth-place finish was the best for an American in giant slalom until Bode Miller won silver in 2002. In his career, he won four U.S. titles, the famed Roch Cup in Aspen twice, Sun Valley's Harriman Cup and many other honors.

After a two-year stint in the Navy, Corcoran spent the next two years working as a broker and securities analyst in California. In 1962 he returned to skiing, working for the Aspen Skiing Corporation as assistant to the president. In 1964 he took a leave of absence and returned to the east coast to help Robert F. Kennedy with his successful New York state senatorial campaign.

After time spent learning the ski industry in Colorado, Corcoran returned to New Hampshire and formed the Waterville Company to purchase 425 acres at the base of Mt. Tecumseh, which included the old Waterville Inn, a 9-hole golf course, tennis court and swimming pool. Corcoran secured the appropriate approvals from the Forest Service for the development of the ski area on Mount Tecumseh. He formed and opened Waterville Valley Resort in the winter of 1966-67, and quickly attracted skiers from around the region, including the Kennedy family. The resort became a favorite for the Kennedys and their children. “Bobby’s Run” was named for Kennedy after his assassination in 1969.

Waterville Valley became a popular spot for politicians and celebrities, from the Kennedy family to New Hampshire's Sununu family. Over the decades, he played a pivotal role in the American ski industry, also serving as a very active director and chairman of the National Ski Areas Association. He also played a key role in the startup of the recreational racing program NASTAR in the late '60s. Waterville hosted the first professional freestyle skiing championships in 1972. The resort's cross country trails served as the race site of the U.S. Ski Association's Great American Ski Chase.

During his three decades managing Waterville Valley, it became a core resort for ski racing, hosting several FIS World Cup races, including the 1969 Finals. The legendary Waterville Valley Black and Blue Trail Smashers (WVBBTS) was a central part of racing in New England, playing host to all levels of competition from kids and junior races right up to international, hosting 11 World Cup races. Corcoran remained extremely active in the sport as a leader with the then U.S. Ski Association and the U.S. Ski Team Education Foundation. He was awarded USSA's Julius Blegen Award in 1991 for his lifetime service to the sport.

"Tom Corcoran was a real catalyst behind the prominence of alpine ski racing when I was growing up in the 1970s and '80s in New England," said U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw. "He was the consummate visionary and volunteer for our sport - always looking at ways he could give back."

After his retirement from Waterville Valley in 1999, Corcoran and his late wife Daphne A. Corcoran, made Seabrook Island, South Carolina their home. They sailed several sailboats named Snow Dance all over the Coast of Maine and up into Canada. Their sailing explorations expanded to offshore sailing adventures beginning in earnest in 1979, when they competed in the 750-mile Marion to Bermuda Race. In 1999 they started and completed a 4-year circumnavigation of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea that covered 20,000 sea miles, visiting 26 countries and over 200 ports of call, stretching from Turkey to the Lesser Antilles. Later they purchased a motor boat and traveled the Intracoastal Waterways, up the Hudson River and Erie Canal to explore all of the historic scenic inland waterways of New York, Ontario, Quebec and Vermont. In total, they traveled more than 8,000 miles in two years and passed through 220 locks.

His wife, Daphne, passed away on February 11, 2017. He leaves behind four children by his first wife, Roberta Waterston Britton, Michael P. Corcoran, Christine Corcoran DeStefano, Kathleen A. Corcoran and Kerry Gaillard Corcoran; two stepchildren, Linda Fogg Noyes and Daphne M. Fogg; two grandchildren, Sam and Silver Brelsford; three step grandchildren, Emily Grunow, Katherine Enos and Wyatt M. Fogg; and two great step-grandchildren John E. Grunow and Hope K. Grunow.

In lieu of flowers, please make contributions in his memory to the US Ski and Snowboard Association at, the International Skiing History Association at, or to Waterville Valley Adaptive Sports (WVAS) at

A memorial service will be held from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, August 12, 2017 next to the Town Square in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire to celebrate his life and accomplishments, with festivities to follow celebrating the Town of Waterville Valley’s 50th Anniversary, where Corcoran was elected to serve as Town Selectman, a 3-person governing board, for the Town of Waterville Valley for 35 years or 12 terms, the longest serving Selectman at the time in New Hampshire.
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Saturday, August 12, 2017

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