‘Heavenly Fred’ Corfee dead at 76
A man with a pioneering, adventurous spirit that captured the essence of the skiing life, former Heavenly Mountain Resort managing partner Fred Douglas Corfee II, died from a massive blood clot at Washoe Medical Center in Reno on Friday. He was 76.
A week earlier, he fell while walking to his vehicle in the ski resort’s California Base Lodge parking lot that put him in a coma, family members said. He was found unconscious with severe head trauma by a passerby that afternoon near his vehicle and was taken to Barton Memorial Hospital. He was later flown to Washoe Medical Center where he died.
In reflecting on his life, his wife Jeanne, daughter Catherine and son James felt it was fitting that Corfee lived his last moments Feb. 11 where he shared his love for skiing with the likes of the late President Reagan and Hugh Killebrew.
After Reagan died, Corfee told the Tahoe Daily Tribune about the president’s 1968 ski outing with Nevada Gov. Paul Laxalt, saying how he was amused when Reagan threw snowballs and joked with those who came to watch.
Even though the Corfees’ primary residence is Sacramento where Fred operated a laundry and financial advising businesses, the family maintained a cabin at Marla Bay and later a home in the Tahoe Keys. They owned a piece of the ski resort from 1963 to 1990.
“Heavenly was his dream – and he left us at Heavenly. It was his second life,” Jeanne Corfee said.
Representatives with the ski resort declined to comment on the matter.
Corfee, nicknamed “Heavenly Fred,” took the love of skiing to new heights and found the love of his life in the meantime. He had competed in ski jumping, slalom and downhill events early in his life, meeting his wife of 53 years in Reno at a ski competition between the University of Nevada and his alma mater University of California, Berkeley.
“I invited him to my senior ball. He’d do crazy things. He won my heart in the very beginning. I loved his personality and his kindness. He’d do things for people,” she said.
Corfee was described as a man with a sense of humor who loved people and skiing. He also played tennis and bridge, went waterskiing on occasion and ran marathons. But it was the snow sport that captured his essence the best.
“He always skied in a necktie,” his wife said.
His father gave him a tie before a competition for good luck, and he made a point of staying in the unique attire on the slopes.
“I told him: ‘Hey Fred, I gave you a nice sweater to cover up that tie,'” Heavenly old-timer Martin Hollay recalled him saying to his friend of more than 30 years. Hollay, on the other hand, is known for skiing in knickers.
Corfee preferred skiing the long cruiser routes like the Ridge Run.
“I still have a picture in my entry way of the two of us skiing together,” said Hollay, 86.
Hollay wasn’t his only friend.
“He was my best friend,” his daughter Catherine said. “He was so full of life, with no inhibitions. He was the bravest person I knew. He dared to be different.”
His son James said he’ll “truly miss the expressions” of his father, whom he described as both a flirt and a gentleman whose favorite cologne was Ben Gay, a muscle relaxing ointment for those hard days of skiing.
“If there was one particular thing I learned from him, it’s to always be there for your child,” he said.
His son plans to name his expectant baby due in May after his father.
Memorial services are slated for Friday in Sacramento at the Freemont Presbyterian Church. Donations for the church’s new keyboard will be accepted in lieu of flowers. Corfee was building the keyboard fund before he died.
When: Feb. 24, 4 p.m.
Where: Freemont Presbyterian Church, 5770 Carlson Drive, Sacramento
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