Keystone is an internationally recognized resort attracting thousands of winter ski and snowboard enthusiasts, as well as outdoor mountain lovers throughout the year.
The resort wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for a chance meeting between Bill and Jane Bergman and Max and Edna Dercum on News Year’s Eve in 1968. Before that night, the Bergmans had never conceived of creating a ski resort.
“The Dercums had that dream for many, many years. I’d never have thought of it on my own,” Bill Bergman said.
After the chance meeting, the Bergmans snapped into action to develop what is now one of Summit County’s prized resorts.
The agreement to create the ski area was made with a simple handshake. Bergman, a business lawyer from Iowa, would be responsible for securing funding, planning and running the Keystone Resort.
“Thus, and almost as if magically, with this totally unexpected by-chance happening, the Keystone Resort began,” Bergman wrote in his book, “By Chance: The Founding of Keystone Resort.”
The savvy businessman credits the success of the resort to family-oriented business practices with an emphasis on friendliness and cleanliness — as well as few lucky breaks along the way.
Now in their eighties, Bill and Jane Bergman call Keystone their home.
The couple owns a house on the Snake River. Its large, open living space maintains a comfortable element of charm. The Bergmans still enjoy the outdoor lifestyle Summit County has to offer. They continue to ski several days each week in the winter, and Bill is an avid golfer during warmer months.
The couple enjoys sitting outside on their wrap-around deck overlooking the Snake River, watching students from the Keystone Science Center learning and laughing as they explore the riverbank.
Bergman recently completed a longtime project — publishing his book about the founding of the resort. The book had been a hobby of his for more than a decade, and his family helped him bring it to fruition, contributing their unique experiences to chapters in the book.
Bergman said readers will gain insight into how to build a successful business.
“This book is for them to see how it was done, the purpose behind it and guiding tools for entrepreneurs,” he said.
He also wants Keystone employees to read the book.
“I wanted this book for the employees to understand what we did and have some idea why they should stay with us,” Bergman said.
The couple not only enjoys meeting visitors the resort attracts from all over the world, they also enjoy camaraderie with Keystone residents.
“We are community-minded,” Jane Bergman said. “We all kind of work for the community here. Because we aren’t a town, we have to do it ourselves — and that brings us together.”
The couple’s daughter-in-law, Rita Bergman, said the close-knit relationship shared among Keystone residents is a reflection of the Keystone Resort founders’ values.
Bergman didn’t commit his time and energy into accumulating wealth or fame, but because he passionately loved the mountains and the lifestyle they provided, his wife said. He paid himself only a dollar each year he was president of the resort, she added.
“My husband grew up with this family legacy, and for me coming into the family, I feel a real sense of responsibility to make sure those traditions and values continue into the future — because look at the joy and the kind of community that has been built on those values,” she said. “When I wake up every morning, and interact with the people who are here, it’s very grounding, and it centers me into staying in touch with the parts of life that are most important.”