by Meredith F. Sonderskov
While watching the remarkable skiers in the Olympics on TV last week, I could not help but think of Sally Deaver Murray, a former resident of Chestnut Hill and Whitemarsh, a friend of mine and a 1951 graduate of Springside School who spent much of her 20s winning numerous honors on ski slopes across the world. She had demonstrated her athletic ability at Springside as a member of the varsity teams in field hockey, basketball and lacrosse. I would like very much for current area residents to know that we had a person of her remarkable skiing ability here in our midst as a neighbor and friend.
Sally was the only daughter of Joshua Montgomery Deaver, a Chestnut Hill surgeon and the son of surgeon John B. Deaver (born 1901), and Priscilla Sparks Sailer. Her parents were married Dec. 16, 1932, and their daughter was born on Dec. 14, 1933.
Sally learned to ski at age 10 while attending North Country School in Lake Placid, New York. Her racing career started after a ski vacation in Chile, South America. While skiing in the Andes Mountains, she caught the “ski bug” and spent three seasons there under the guidance and coaching of skiing luminaries Emile Allais, Stein Eriksen, Buddy Werner and Tom Corcoran.
Sally completed two years at Vassar College and then began pursuing her passion for skiing in earnest. Her most outstanding results came in 1956 when she won the National Women’s Giant Slalom Championship and the National Women’s Slalom Championship. She again won the National Women’s Giant Slalom Championship in 1957 and captained the U.S. women’s team for the 1958 World Alpine Championships. She turned down a chance to be a part of the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team Training Squad to marry Benjamin H. Murray, a Baltimore attorney.
Both Sally and her husband shared a strong interest in horseback riding and competition, and that sport was her main competitive focus for several years after her marriage. Her life ended suddenly and tragically on Aug. 14, 1963, when she was thrown from her horse during a training ride in Ambler. She was a mere 29 years old. Although she never had a serious accident in the highly dangerous sport of skiing, it was her passion for the equestrian sport which caused her premature death.
Sally and I were classmates for four years at Springside. We shared interests in writing and drama and, as seniors, weekends at the University of Virginia. One of my most memorable moments of those years was in 10th grade when we both had parts in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I was cast as Pyramus, and Sally was cast as Thisbe. It was a hoot. She had a great sense of humor and real literary talent. We all thought she would end up on the staff of the New Yorker magazine.
In 1978 Sally was inducted into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum located in the City of Ishpeming in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the birthplace of organized skiing in the United States.
It is home to an extensive collection of artifacts and archives relating to the history of skiing. It has 20,000 square feet of space containing displays on over 375 honored members, trophies, clothing and equipment. There is a gift shop, library and theater.
A memorial fund was established there by Sally’s mother, and a race is held there each year in her honor.
In 2003 Sally was also inducted into the Pennsylvania Snow Sports Museum Hall of Fame at 201 Washington St. in Reading.