Lifetime Achievement Award

Alexis Kelner

By Mark Jones

In August of 2022, Alexis Kelner officially resigned as the Wasatch Mountain Club (WMC) Historian.

The WMC would like to thank Alexis for his many years of service as the WMC historian and also for his dedication and service in many other positions in the Club since joining in 1957.

When I joined the WMC Centennial Planning Committee in early 2018, my first project and the reason I signed on, was to work with Alexis Kelner in an effort to help organize his collections for possible donation to the WMC Special Collections at J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah. August 8, 2018, was my first of many meetings with Alexis. We would go to the University Library every week and study the WMC Special Collection. I was very impressed about the vast amount of knowledge Alexis had about WMC history! In his early 80s, his mind was sharp as a tac, and while it seemed he knew just about everything about WMC history, he was still going through records and learning ever more about Club history. Each session at the library he would take detailed notes and photos of documents for future use. This process evolved over time and ultimately resulted in over 2,800 photos being donated to the WMC Special Collection.

Alexis was born on December 14, 1938 in Latvia just prior to World War II. From Alexis' biography we find that "The government of his homeland was Sovietized by the Bolsheviks in 1939 and Germanized by the Nazis two years later. During the five years of occupations, the Kelner families' home and other properties were expropriated by the governments then in power. Toward the end of the war the Kelners avoided the second (1944) Soviet occupation of Latvia by escaping to Germany. The Kelners emigrated to America in 1950 and settled in Salt Lake City. At present, Alexis is researching and writing about his family's history during the above time period."

Upon joining the WMC, Alexis became an avid back country skier, mountaineer and spelunker. In the mid- 1960s he wrote several articles for Summit Magazine, one of which was called "Americas Deepest Cave" a story and history about Neffs Cave.