By Peggy Young | May 14, 2012, 7:40 p.m. (ET)


Born February 26, 1924 – Died May 12, 2012

We mourn the loss of Gordon B. "Budd" Van Roekel - Santa Ana, California.   In 1949, Budd Van Roekel left employment with the Edison Company at age 23 to open a small rink in Santa Ana, California.  He joined the Roller Skating Rink Operators Association in 1952, and helped to develop the California State Chapter of rink operators that grew to be the largest Chapter in the RSROA.  Van Roekel was chosen as national RSROA President in five separate elections, spread over two decades.  He was named a Life Member of the RSROA in 1974, and in 1984 was elected by the RSROA Board to the Roller Skating Industry Hall of Fame.

Budd Van Roekel has spent the majority of his long life directing the growth and development of roller skating in the United States.  In September of 1982 he was named President of the Federation International de Roller Sports, a move that transferred the FIRS headquarters from Europe to the United States for the first time.  Van Roekel was re-elected to a second four year term as the President of FIRS in 1986.  Van Roekel is the only American to have served as FIRS President.  It was during his second term as FIRS President that roller hockey was accepted by the IOC as a Demonstration Sport for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. 

He was a founding member in 1973 of the United States Confederation of Amateur Roller Skating (USAC/RS), now USA Roller Sports.  He served on its Board of Directors for more than 30 years, becoming its Treasurer and a member of its Executive Committee.  Van Roekel felt an obligation to put something back into a sport that had been so good to him as a rink owner. 

Many will remember the spacious and innovative Skate Ranch rink in Santa Ana, California, which featured a western motif throughout. The Skate Ranch speed skating club produced dozens of national champions over two decades, as well as his rink becoming a focal point for artistic skating in Southern California. With the sale of his rinks, after a brief retirement, he went on to create from the ground up two award winning California wineries that are enjoying great commercial success.  

Budd has been a continuous member of the US Foundation of Amateur Roller Skating that administers the Olympic funds accrued from the 1984 Olympic Games and has been an active member of its investment committee.

He has been a substantial benefactor for the National Museum of Roller Skating, not only as the RSROA Finance Committee Chairman when the Committee approved its start-up costs and maintenance of the exhibits at the RSROA headquarters, but also providing his own personal funds for some of its larger acquisitions.

In 1975, he was a prime mover in securing first time Pan American Games participation for roller skating by going to Mexico City's Pan American Games. These many services by Gordon B. Van Roekel were acknowledged by his installation in 1995 in the USA Roller Sports Distinguished Service Hall of Fame and in 1997 he was made a Life Member of USARS.  Budd will be missed by those who knew and loved him.


In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the United Skating Foundation of Amateur Roller Skating, 4730 South Street, Lincoln, NE  68506 (Attention: Peggy, phone 402-483-7551, ext 15) or to the American Diabetes Association, 1701 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA  22311