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A Life: Stephen Waterhouse, 1943-2017, Shared His Passion for Dartmouth

  • Stephen Waterhouse, of Hanover, N.H., in a Jan. 31, 2010, portrait at his home. A successful business entrepreneur, Waterhouse parlayed many of his resources and contacts into equally successful projects celebrating what he loved most — Dartmouth College and skiing. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • A Stephen Waterhouse selfie taken in March 2017 at CarniVAIL, the annual festival for Dartmouth alumni he organized in Vail, Colo. It was the last time Waterhouse skied. (Stephen Waterhouse photograph)



Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, April 16, 2018

Hanover — Stephen Waterhouse knew exactly what his passions were — they revolved around Dartmouth College and the sport of skiing — and throughout life, he found myriad ways to share them.

A successful business entrepreneur, Waterhouse parlayed many of his resources and contacts into equally successful projects celebrating his alma mater and skiing.

Waterhouse — who died on Dec. 8, 2017, at 74, following a short battle with brain cancer — was proud to be a member of Dartmouth’s Class of 1965, for which he held every office, from secretary to treasurer to president, at one time or another.

His enthusiasm was evident on Saturdays during football season as an undergraduate, when Waterhouse played an exuberant Dartmouth Indian mascot on the sidelines.

Raised in the mill town of Sanford, Maine, where he was a three-sport athlete and attended public schools, Waterhouse came to Dartmouth on an academic scholarship and may have considered reciprocation a duty, according to Linda Waterhouse, his wife of more than 50 years.

A graduate of Simmons College in Boston, she met her future husband on a blind date in 1963.

“He was a very strong (high school) student, and from what I understand he was recruited by several colleges and universities,” said Linda Waterhouse.

“He chose Dartmouth in part because he was a proud northern New Englander, and I think a part of him always felt indebted to Dartmouth for the educational opportunity it gave him.”

Also a 1967 Tuck School of Business graduate, Waterhouse was skilled in rallying Dartmouth classmates for the moral and fundraising support needed to aide various causes.

He arranged for the construction of the original Class of 1965 cabin at Mount Moosilauke, a bunkhouse accompanying the larger Ravine Lodge.

That structure has since been replaced with a fully winterized bunkhouse facility featuring a ski-themed sculpture Waterhouse helped design with artist Dimitri Gerakaris.

Waterhouse also spearheaded efforts to create Rauner Library’s Special Collections, which houses Dartmouth’s rare books, manuscripts and archives, as well as the Class of 1965 art gallery on the mezzanine level at Rauner, inside Webster Hall.

All the while, Waterhouse served stints as president of the college’s Alumni Council and spearheaded a now-40-year-old tradition of mini-reunions each fall at an inn in Etna.

“Steve had his hand in about 15 major projects for the college and our class over the years,” said Class of 1965 President Mike Gonnerman, of Hanover. “His passion was very strong.”

Waterhouse also proved to be a strong influence in the business world, beginning in corporate operations with cosmetics giant Revlon, and later with London-based executive search firm Whitehead Mann. Eventually, Waterhouse founded his own executive search firm, Hanover Partners Inc., based in New York and London.

While Waterhouse’s enthusiasm in the corporate world may not have been as forthcoming, his shrewdness was unmistakable.

“Stephen was a very skilled executive. He was aggressive in a quiet way,” said John Crowther, a longtime business associate and friend. “He wasn’t prone to histrionics. He was very assertive and confident. People around him tried to emulate him.”

Waterhouse also demonstrated resourcefulness during everyday life, especially when it came to shopping.

“He was a very practical and logical person,” said his daughter, Melinda Waterhouse. “I learned targeted shopping from my father. If (my brother and I) needed clothes, he’d go into the store, look for ‘x,’ ‘y’ and ‘z,’ hope they were on sale and get to the register and get out of there as quickly as he could.”

Waterhouse — whose primary residence was a stately home near campus — developed a love of skiing and ski culture while at Dartmouth. He taught Melinda and his son, Jim, to cross-country ski at Hanover Country Club and later downhill skied with them in Killington, Vt., and Vail, Colo.

Waterhouse helped organize the Dartmouth Club of Vail and CarniVAIL, an annual weekend of keynote speakers and social events at and around Vail Ski Resort during the first weekend each March. His final ski trip came during CarniVAIL 2017, its 18th edition.

Waterhouse spent much of his retirement immersed in Dartmouth-related projects, publishing two books and producing a film. The first book, 2004’s Dartmouth’s Dedicated Alumni, details the first 50 years of alumni contributions from recipients of the Dartmouth Alumni Award, a list to which Waterhouse himself was named in 1993.

Next came Passion for Skiing, a 411-page work chronicling the school’s impact on skiing, from its days as a mecca for North America’s first collegiate skiers to its wide-ranging influence on the ski industry at large that continues today.

As a companion film, Waterhouse produced 2013’s Passion for Snow, a narrated series of video vignettes that received a documentary of the year Emmy nomination. Waterhouse spoke and answered questions during the film’s premiere at Dartmouth’s Loew Auditorium.

“It’s hard for people to understand and appreciate the fact that so much in the industry and the history of skiing comes back to Dartmouth,” Waterhouse told the Valley News prior to that screening. “There are Dartmouth people everywhere you look.”

The Class of 1965 has shipped out more than 2,000 DVD copies of Passion for Snow, according to Gonnerman, who said Waterhouse’s work continues to reach inquisitive Dartmouth students and alumni. On the day Waterhouse died, Jim Waterhouse, met one of them in Nashville, Tenn.

“I was there on business, and there was a representative from Hypertherm there,” Jim Waterhouse recalled. The woman was a Dartmouth student and was writing her dissertation about Olympic athletes from Dartmouth, he said. She noticed his last name on his nametag, because one of the first things recommended to her when she started the project was to watch Passion for Snow and talk to Steve Waterhouse, he added.

“I found out he’d died later that day, but that conversation kind of tied it all together for me when it came to my dad. He knew that life was about finding what you loved, embracing it and celebrating it. If you do that, you can affect a lot of people.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.