On Friday, September 29, the Berkshire community, Board of Trustees, and friends of the School gathered to commemorate two Berkshire alumni and to celebrate two new spaces on campus dedicated in their honor.
The 5,400-square foot Ritt Kellogg Mountain Center was named for Peter Rittenhouse "Ritt" Kellogg, Jr. '85, an avid climber, skier, and Outward Bound leader who passed away in an avalanche in Alaska in 1992. The Ed Chase '69 Ski Room was dedicated in honor of Ed Chase, a world-renowned ski technician who lost his five-year battle with cancer in 2015. The two adjoining spaces are located on the north side of Geier Library, on the ground level.
Head of School Pieter Mulder presided over both dedications, thanking Peter Kellogg '61 for his generous gift to renovate the space for the Center, which will serve as the home to the Ritt Kellogg Mountain Program (RKMP). The Kellogg family established the RKMP in 1994 to celebrate Ritt Kellogg's life. Since then, RKMP has become one of the School's most beloved signature programs.
"The Ritt Kellogg Mountain Program, founded in Ritt's memory and going strong today, inspires all of us at Berkshire to enjoy, respect, and preserve our natural environment," Mulder said.
Ritt Kellogg's brother Kirk Kellogg '87, Kirk's son, Cooper, and Board of Trustees Chair Alice Ehrenclou Cole '76 were invited to cut the ribbon outside of the Center. Nadine Lloyd, the director of RKMP, was also in attendance, along with RKMP students.
The Ritt Kellogg Mountain Center will elevate the program, giving students and faculty a central meeting space where they can hold pre-trip meetings and gatherings. Additionally, the Center allows students to sign out gear and bikes and to access wilderness guides, natural history books, and area maps. The space will store gear for backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and more.
Longtime Berkshire teacher Peter Kinne, who was Ritt Kellogg's advisor, remarked that his former student would be "humbled by RKMP." He shared: "Up the hill, across Buck Valley and left toward the bridge, there is a plaque placed on a boulder by the Class of 1985. It reads, 'If there is no mountain in heaven, may we live forever.' A fitting testament to the generosity of spirit and love of the outdoors that Ritt brought and still brings to this campus."
The tributes continued outside the Ed Chase '69 Ski Room, where family, friends, and members of the ski team celebrated a new space that perfectly exemplifies Ed Chase's passion and profession. Chase began skiing at Berkshire, and he became a well-respected figure in the ski world, tuning skis for world champion alpine skiers Phil and Steve Mahre. A pair of skis that were made for Phil, silver medalist in slalom at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, hangs outside the new ski room.
The room houses the boys and girls varsity and JV alpine ski team locker rooms, and it has a large ski storage facility, equipment and video room, and a newly renovated ski tuning facility with customized tuning benches and downdraft tables. Director of Facilities Tim Fulco '78, a former member of Berkshire's alpine ski team, led the renovation of both spaces with Cam Brown from Hill Engineers Architect Planners in Dalton, Mass.
Seamus McKeon '69 spearheaded the fundraising efforts for the room, knowing that his longtime friend Chase wanted to bequeath something to Berkshire, but "didn't want another silver trophy that needed to be polished."
"Ed learned to ski at Berkshire on trails that his father had cleared, and he learned to tune skis at Kenver (ski shop) in South Egremont, just down the road." McKeon said. "This is a recognition of the success and the impact that Ed had in his professional life. And it's also recognition of where it all started."
McKeon said the Chase family's history at Berkshire made the dedication all the more special. Chase's parents, Arthur C. and Alice Ann (Anderson) Chase, were faculty members at the School for 35 years, and two other campus buildings bear their names: Chase House, home of the Admission Office, and the Arthur C. Chase Sugar House.
Chase's sister and brother-in-law Annie and Paul Redman helped to cut the ribbon, along with their nieces Amanda Wheeler Ekster '97 and Jennifer Wheeler Del Vaglio '95. Davis Anderson '68, Chase's cousin and a former Berkshire trustee, was also in attendance.
"Eddie would have been overwhelmed, humbled, and pleased that the room has his name, and the ski team has such a wonderful place to work," his sister said. "It was something that he never would have imagined."
There are four photos of Chase that grace the walls of the new ski space, and the one of him skiing is Redman's favorite. "There's no face like my brother's when he's winning a race," she said.