Remembering Chuck Maple, a long-time Aspen resident who lived many lives
Chuck Maple, a longtime resident of Aspen for 55 years, passed away March 15 at the age of 91. He was surrounded by loved ones who held his hand even after he took his final breath.
Maple was a father, grandfather, husband, ski enthusiast, and a champion of the American Dream. One of his grandchildren, Wiley Maple, is a World Cup and Olympic skier.
“Not a lot of kids get to spend 30-plus years with their grandparents,” said Wiley. “I’ve been lucky enough to have known mine for my whole life and got to know them as best as possible.”
“(He) is a super special person to me,” he added.
The many lives of Chuck Maple
Chuck Maple was born Alexander Charles Sych in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1931. His parents were Ukrainian refugees of the Russian civil war, which began in 1917 under Vladimir Lenin’s leadership.
Growing up in Winnipeg, Maple trekked through thigh-deep snow — uphill both ways! — for his daily school commute until he built his first pair of skis out of barrel staves.
It was during his early years that his love and passion for skiing flourished. He spent his days in Winnipeg sliding alongside the banks of the Red River or skiing down the largest hills in the area.
Even as a young man, Maple was drawn to a life of adventure. At 15, he ran away from home, leaving his family and school behind as he sought adventure in the northern mountains of Canada.
He found work in a gold mine, lying about his age to meet the requirements. Fearing his parents or authorities would find him, he changed his name. At 15 years old, Charles “Chuck” Maple was reborn, or at least renamed.
He quickly learned that mining was laborious and dangerous. He spent his days shoveling ore into carts, drilling, packing dynamite, and more. The physical labor strengthened him, and the experience changed him once again.
With this, Chuck rose from the ashes.
He grew increasingly wary of the dangers of mining. Following a cave-in that nearly took his life, his uncle offered him a job at an automobile factory in Alberta.
Throughout his late teens, Maple took many jobs, in part to fund his lifelong love of skiing. He worked as a cabbie, bus driver, packhorse guide, carpenter, mechanic, and more.
One summer, while he was working as a passenger snowcat driver and tour guide at the Columbia Ice Field, he met Bryce Mann, a waitress from Vancouver.
In October 1955, Maple legally changed his name. The following month, Bryce legally took his last name, as well.
In search of the next great place
Chuck and Bryce Maple had three children — Marlene, Mike, and Sandy. Even as a young family, they were bound to the wanderlust lifestyle, moving around North America.
They eventually settled in West Dover, Vermont, until Maple felt called to the west.
He began trotting through Utah, California, and Colorado, calling Bryce from pay phones to tell her about his journey.
“The story goes that he was looking for the next great place,” said Wiley.
When he came to Aspen, he knew he had found home.
“I think Aspen was a place that he landed on because it had a community, a culture that was unique compared to a lot of other ski towns.” said Wiley.
“There is a rumor that the Powder 8 was enticing to him,” he said. “He saw that event and thought ‘Oh, this is a great place.”‘
Maple journeyed back to Vermont, enthusiastic about the prospect of raising a family in Aspen. Once his children were released for summer vacation, the Maples packed up and journeyed west.
He found work as a ski instructor in the winter and spent his summers taking on whatever work he could find.
Well into his 80s, he skied the mountain with the passion and vigor of someone 60 years younger, his family remembered.
Wiley credits his introduction to skiing to his father, but he knows his journey to becoming a World Cup skier and Olympian in part was catalyzed by his grandfather.
“I’d say my dad was prime source of getting me skiing,” said Wiley. “But I’m sure that my dad’s skiing was a result of my grandfather and grandmother. It kind of just gets handed down through the generations.”
Chuck is survived by his wife, Bryce, and their children, Marlene, Mike, and Sandy; and his grandchildren Wiley, Alexandra, Abby, Katherine Avery Mickey, Quinby, and Ramona Maple. He had one great-grandchild, Laila.
To reach Kristen Mohammadi, call 304-650-2404 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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