Read about the life of Leif Hovelsen, a longtime fan of Steamboat Springs and a man who survived Nazi prison camps to devote himself to the cause of world peace, at www.iofc.org/node/55966.
- Wednesday, April 4, 2012, 5:30 p.m.
- Olympian Hall, Howelsen Hill, Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs Leif Hovelsen, the man who devoted his adult life to furthering world peace but was best known in Steamboat Springs as the son of Carl Howelsen, will be remembered Wednesday night during a memorial and tribute at Olympian Hall. His life will be celebrated at the base of the ski trails and jumps that bear his family name.
Leif Hovelsen (Steamboat residents use the Anglicized version of the family surname) died Sept. 18, 2011, in Oslo, Norway. He was 88. He survived a Nazi prison camp as a teenager during World War II after he was caught smuggling radios out of Oslo to resistance fighters. That experience launched him on his life path of traveling the world to promote peace and, often, to mediate conflicts.
Filmmaker Frank Vandergrift, of Routt County, who collaborated with Hovelsen on a video documentary of his life, said he has been overwhelmed by the tributes and letters of condolence from across the world that have been forwarded to him in connection with Wednesday night’s memorial in Steamboat.
“It’s amazing some of the letters I’ve gotten,” Vandergrift said. “Raj (Mohan) Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, sent a letter. I heard from people in Russia” who recalled that Hovelsen had supported the Nobel Peace Prize for author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, of “The Gulag Archipelago” fame, in 1970.
“It just blows me away.”
Carl Howelsen came to Steamboat in 1913 and worked as a stonemason, but he gained fame as the man who promoted ski jumping as a sport in Colorado and established Steamboat’s first Winter Carnival in 1914.
Throughout the years, Leif (pronounced “Life”) Hovelsen frequently would travel to Steamboat in February to soak up the modern version of Winter Carnival and celebrate the lasting connection his father had forged between Oslo and Steamboat. It’s the delight he took in his father’s enduring legacy that endeared Leif Hovelsen to modern-day Steamboat.
Wednesday night’s memorial is open to the community and begins at 5:30 p.m. in Olympian Hall. The event will include a screening of Vandergrift’s documentary, as well as spoken eulogies. Norwegian-style pancakes also will be served.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com