Curt Beusman, Co-founder of IHRSA, Dies

Curt Beusman right turned over operation of the clubs under Saw Mill Sports Management to his son Rick Beusman left in the mid1990s File photo by Gabe Hopkins

Curt Beusman (right) turned over operation of the clubs under Saw Mill Sports Management to his son, Rick Beusman (left), in the mid-1990s. (File photo by Gabe Hopkins.)

(Editor's Note: This story has been updated to offer the date and location of the memorial service for Curt Beusman.)

Curt Beusman, founder of Saw Mill Club, Mt. Kisco, New York, died on Tuesday. He was 84.

The family is planning a memorial service at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 12 at the Saw Mill Club in Mount Kisco, New York.

Beusman was preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Jane, and daughter Blair, who died of breast cancer. The couple also had two sons, Robert, who is a filmmaker, and Rick, who now runs the Saw Mill Club, the Sportsplex/New Windsor club, Mount Kisco Athletic Club and the Sportsplex/Stamford (Connecticut) club.

Beusman received Club Industry's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 for his contributions to the fitness industry. He was a past president of the National Tennis Association and co-founded IHRSA with a host of other club operators, including Caro, Norm Cates, Dale Dibble, Peter Donahue, Todd Pulis and Jennifer Wayt Saslaw. IHRSA also had honored Beusman with its Person of the Year and Distinguished Service awards.

"Curt Beusman was a founder of the health club industry, as we know it today," said Rick Caro, president of Management Vision. "He was a pioneer in so many areas: EFT, raising prices regularly, staff skill building and real customer service, computerization and co-generation. Once he learned, he was not reluctant to share with others. He is still remembered for his 10 Commandments, delivered as a gospel preacher. He helped IHRSA and was always a leader."

Caro also noted that Beusman and his wife developed clubs and club leaders.

"His legacy is immense," he said. "He was brilliant, an amazing problem solver, a classic entrepreneur, a spell-binding teacher, a humorist, an industry statesman and a friend to so many. We will all miss him."

Beusman was born and raised in the Chicago area, skipping two grades in elementary school. He graduated from Northwestern University in Chicago at 20 years old. While in college, he met his wife when both worked on a Northwestern musical review. The couple married a year later.

Beusman earned a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Cincinnati as well as a master's degree in business from Columbia University. In 1957, the family moved to Mt. Kisco where he worked as a chemical scientist on classified nuclear programs.

However, in 1960, Beusman's entrepreneurial instincts led him to co-found Curtis Instruments with Edward Marwell. Just 10 years later, he left the company and started a tennis club that would soon morph into a multi-purpose club called Saw Mill Club.

Longtime friend Cecil Spearman, who is owner of Spearman Clubs, Laguna Niguel, California, said of Beusman: "Curt was a man with many careers and interests. And he was a big success in every endeavor  he entered…Curt was always willing to share with others. I entered the club business at age 51, and Curt helped me make the transition and was always willing to share his experiences. Curt provided a lot of help to me as I began my club career, and I give him credit for many of the things we do well today. He was a lifetime friend and a great man."

John Doyle, co-founder of The Belmont Athletic Club in Long Beach, California, saw Beusman in 2010 when Beusman received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Club Industry Show in Chicago.

"A few of us had a chance to sit down and have a fun dinner of shared laughs and great memories," he wrote in an email to Club Industry. "Curt was always so positive with a can-do attitude that would encourage all of us to push ourselves to do better. He was always fun and inspiring.

"We have lost a friend and a legend! …Men like Curt are a gift to all of us who had the pleasure of knowing him and listening to his advice and counsel. A bright light has left our industry, and he will always be remembered and definitely missed."

A notice on Curtis Instrument's website shared the news of Beusman's passing, saying, in part:

"It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Curtis Beusman, known to all as 'Curt,' one of the founders of Curtis Instruments, Inc. Along with the former Curtis president and CEO, Edward Marwell, he was instrumental in establishing the company in 1960. Both were experienced engineers who joined forces to lay the groundwork for Curtis Instruments, now a global company with 15 locations and 1,000 employees. Along with engineer Eugene Finger, who is still active as board member of Curtis, the team developed and marketed the company’s first product: a mercury coulometer.

"… On December 1, 1960, they started Curtis Instruments, Inc. in the storefront of L.B. Richards, a lumberyard on Kisco Avenue in Mount Kisco. Liebowitz joined the Curtis Board of Directors. Marwell and Beusman had different and lighthearted recollections of how Curtis got its name. Beusman claims they put their own names to the test and both decided that Curtis Instruments had a better ring to it than Edward Instruments. Since Beusman’s name was used for the company, Marwell was made president. Marwell remembers them flipping a coin, and while Beusman chose his own name for the company, Marwell chose the role of president….

"The employees, management, shareholders and board of directors of Curtis Instruments share with the family and community the profound loss of a co-founder and lifelong friend."

Club Industry will update this story with information on a memorial service when details are available. 

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