OBITUARY: WALLY ROTHGEB
WALLY ROTHGEB, SR., 89, passed away peacefully at his home in Ketchum, Idaho on January 5, 2012. Born July 26, 1922 in Wenatchee, Washington, the only child of Clyde and Wanda Rothgeb, Wally learned to ski at age 6 on the slopes of Stevens Pass and was hooked for life. He was active in many sports but skiing was his first and lifelong love.
While skiing at Stevens Pass on December 7, 1941, Wally took a lunch break, turned on the car radio and learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He threw his skis in the car and enlisted that afternoon, serving in the Army Air Corps in the South Pacific until October of 1945. While home on a 30-day furlough Wally married his high school sweetheart, Betty Hobson.
In 1955, wihle vacationing at Lake Tahoe, Wally learned that a ski area was about to be built on Monument Peak above the Lake. With no guarantee of a job, Wally packed up his young family and moved to Tahoe. Strong and knowledgeable, a “four-event” ski champion, he was the right man for Heavenly Valley.
Wally helped construct the first chair lift, headed the ski patrol, coached the Far West Ski Association Junior National team and ultimately became mountain and general manager of the resort. He and Betty managed Heavenly Valley for the decade of the 1960s. He also instilled a love of skiing and the outdoors in his children.
After the move to Lake Tahoe, Wally restarted his competitive skiing career that had been sidetracked by the war and his growing family. He was the National Veterans Champion in downhill and slalom combined in 1957 and 1959.
In 1971, it was off to Big Sky, Montana to build and open a ski area for Chet Huntley. Leaving Big Sky up and running successfully in 1974, it was back to Tahoe and retirement. As their children scattered, Wally and Betty split their time between Tahoe, Ketchum and Phoenix. Wally is survived by his four children Wally Jr., Barb (Barlow) and Nance, all of Ketchum, Susan (Clendenin) of Lake Tahoe; and four grandchildren Chris, Meggi, Taylor and Katie.
Wally’s love of skiing continued throughout his life: A member of the 80+ Ski Club, he skied many seasons at Heavenly Valley and then Sun Valley. His last runs were made on Dollar Mountain at age 86 with an oxygen tank in his backpack.
At his request, no services will be held. Donations in memory of Wally may be made to the Senior Connection of Blaine County, PO Box 28, Hailey, ID 83333. The Senior Connections’ staff, amazing volunteers and all his fellow seniors were a source of much happiness for Wally in his final years.
To record your remembrances go to the following web site: http://www.woodriverchapel.com or PO Box 935, Sun Valley, Idaho 83353 attention: Rothgeb Family.
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