Buchika remembered for attributes
To the editor:
Roger Buchika was to Haverhill sports what Gerry Ashworth was to track and Joanne Goodwin was to golf — larger than life.
Roger Dodger, as I remember him, did more for skiing in the northeast than a cavalcade of Olympic aspirants. With his dignity intact, he never let fame and fortune go to his head.
One look at his list of accomplishments on the slopes and inside the business community remains a telltale sign of success. Yet, Roger would trade any personal attributes to bring some youngster a ray of hope in his sport.
In my sports writing days with the Haverhill Gazette, it was I who always pursued Roger for a story, not the reverse. I remember when he won the coveted Sise Cup for a sixth time and word crossed the sports desk.
"No big deal," he used to say, shedding the glory of becoming iconic in the sport. "It's great to still be competitive. A lot of fun."
And that's precisely what it was — fun and games. While others treated ski racing as a grit-and-grind affair, to Roger it was recreation. It brought him pleasure. He hid his accolades well.
But it was indoors where Roger excelled as the entrepreneur he truly was. From his little alpine shop on Primrose Street came an avalanche of business opportunities. Had you ever driven by the place and seen the cars — many from out-of-state — and you got the idea. The season didn't matter, either, though winters always took precedence.
Skis eventually became complemented by bicycles as other locations followed. His business took on a snowball effect, chamber of commerce-wise and customer prudent. He catered to all types, young and old, big and small. Roger talked a good talk and greeted you with a courteous smile.
While other companies were bigger, it didn't make them any better than Buchika's Sport Shop. Merchandise was one commodity. The advice came free.
It was what he did for the little guy that stood out best — the charities he helped along the way. The kids who skied for the high school ranks and below. He knew that was the future of skiing and did his best to cultivate it.
If anybody deserved to be inducted into the Haverhilll Sports Hall of Fame, it was Roger. On more than one occasion, he was the hands-on choice as Gazette Athlete of the Year — a tribute to himself, his dad George, and the entire Buchika clan. He always reciprocated with a "thank you."
The same year I joined the Gazette (1965), he was named to the United States Ski Team and for years thereafter, became a top-ranked amateur in the east, eventually leading to a national masters championship.
Roger passed on Dec. 18, gone but not forgotten. He leaves behind a legacy that remains unsurpassed in the ski world as well as the business arena. May he rest in peace.