Photo compliments of archived Appalachian Ski Mountain photos.
D. Grady Moretz, Jr. of Appalachian Ski Mountain, passed away Sunday morning at his home, at the age of 88. With his passing, the ski industry lost a pioneer and the High Country area of Western North Carolina lost one of its top tourism icons.
The ski area initially opened as Blowing Rock Ski Lodge during the 1962-1963 season and like many of the early ski areas in the region – they struggled financially through the first six years. Grady Moretz basically rescued the ski area when he and four partners purchased it from the Northwestern Bank at foreclosure at a public auction. Mr. Moretz renamed it Appalachian Ski Mountain and opened it under his direction on December 4, 1968.
Appalachian Ski Mountain was the second ski area opened in the state of North Carolina (after Cataloochee had opened the previous season).
As Reba Moretz once shared – “Grady had a great group involved, but they were from down the mountain. After the sale they asked Grady, ‘Would you just look after it for us?!’ That was the terminology.”
“The way I looked at it,” Grady responded, “if my money’s going to be involved, maybe it’d be good if I did look after it.”
“Bad debt, bad reputation, bad behavior, equipment in bad condition,” that’s what Grady inherited, says Reba. “It was daunting. He had to cope with just about every problem you can imagine in a business.”
Those early years were special! Check out the skiers walking up the main “Big Appal” slope.
“At the end of winter 1968-69,” Grady Moretz once shared, “I got $5,000 for running the ski area. I put it in the pot for the next season, and some of the partners matched it.”
That humble beginning turned into a 51 year love affair with the ski industry, the High Country and all who have ever worked for or with Appalachian Ski Mountain, Mr. Moretz or his family and son, Brad Moretz.
The Moretz family acquired sole ownership of Appalachian Ski Mtn. in 1986 and it has remained a family operated business since then.
Grady Moretz was a special man of character and good will towards anyone who was ever blessed to meet him and speak with him. He will be missed.
Here is the Obituary from Austin and Barnes Funeral Home:
D. Grady Moretz, Jr., age 88, of Poplar Hill Drive, Boone, passed away Sunday morning, April 8, 2018 at his home.
Born June 29, 1929 in Watauga County, he was a son of Dillard Grady Moretz, Sr. and Grace Rhyne Moretz. Grady was a life-long member of Grace Lutheran Church. After attending UNC Chapel Hill, Mr. Moretz served a four year tour of duty in the US Navy during the Korean Conflict. He was a co-founder, owner and operator of Appalachian Ski Mtn. A noted civic leader, Mr. Moretz was a die-hard Tar Hill fan and also was a proud supporter of ASU.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Reba Smith Moretz; son, Brad Moretz, wife Jennifer, and their children, Jensen and Avery Elizabeth Moretz, and daughter, Brenda Moretz Speckmann, husband, John, and their children, Benjamin Wiley and Sophie Brynne Speckmann, all of Blowing Rock. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Joseph A. Moretz.
Funeral services for D. Grady Moretz, Jr. will be conducted Thursday afternoon, April 12, at 3 oclock at Boone United Methodist Church, officiated by Pastor Stephen Troisi and Rev. John Bollinger. Military graveside services, provided by the American Legion Post #130 and the US Navy, will follow at Mount Lawn Memorial Park & Gardens. A reception will follow the graveside services at Grace Lutheran Church. The family will receive friends Wednesday evening from 6 until 8 oclock at Austin & Barnes Funeral Home.
The family suggests memorials to Caldwell Hospice & Palliative Care, 902 Kirkwood St., NW, Lenoir, NC 28645 or to the Lutheran Students House, in care of Grace Lutheran Church, 115 East King St., Boone, NC 28607.
Online condolences may be shared at www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com
Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Moretz family.
Featured We Lose Another Ski Area Pioneer
Thanks for sharing.
Mr. Moretz might have been a little young to be a member of the Greatest Generation, but close enough! Those inspirational 20th Century people that fought and won wars for us, also founded our ski areas. They are passing away now, but established a form of outdoor recreation that is second to none and brings joy to many succeeding generations.
I'm unable to edit at this point but I need to bring to everyone's attention that this came from Skisoutheast.com. I hope I haven't stepped on any copyright toes and I have notified them that I did this. If one of you can edit the original to reflect this I would appreciate it.Mendieta likes this.
What really put Appalachian on the map, albeit just for a few minutes in the late 70s, is that he was able to land Jean Claude Killy to run the ski school, rebranding it as it's still called today as "The French Swiss Ski College". Great value for learning to ski. Put my kids in several hours of private lessons there over the years.
With the recent passing of industry legends and pioneers, who is the next batch of ski industry leaders that have transformed the ski industry in the modern era or transforming it now? Are there any left?
Is it people like Cyrus at Renoun or another boutique production based visionary? Is it Greg Stump? Is it a Leon Black and other financiers that are transforming the ski industry into a publicly traded entity? Is Lewis Bacon who bought Taos? Is it the marketing group that invented the multi-resorts pass? Or is it the ski coaches at Buck Hill in Minneapolis that have turned out many Olympians and countless numbers of skiers on the various national teams, collegiate and high school racers? Is it the owner of a smaller local area that develops para and blind skiers?
We need something to light a fire and bring younger generations into the sport. Killy was mentioned in this thread. For us baby boomers he was a transformational athlete in our youth. In the late 60s he was a household name on a global level and generated a lot of interest in skiing from non-skiers everywhere. Skiiing/snowboarding could use another athlete like that, but they don't grow on trees and a certain alchemy with the media is also required. Consider what Tiger Woods did for golf.jimmy likes this.
My daughter had a race Buck Hill where Lindsey began her career as a young girl. Lindsey's picture is on the wall, as are many young athletes who originated at Buck Hill, and it was a proud moment for my daughter to see and identify that Lindsey started at Buck. That fact alone made Lindsey and her accomplishments as a professional athlete both tangible and real. For a little girl I have to believe that that brief experience was priceless. Incidentally my daughter finished 4th that day in a field of 17.
For the men, I'm thinking possibly Ted Ligety.....Body Miller???
Unlike the 60's the current domestic professional athletic climate is far more diverse and congested and there are many more media outlets and mediums which seems to be challenging for U.S. skiers to gain media attention and notoriety. Therefore inside this current paradigm, it feels that Lindsey's and Mikaela's successes are that much more noteworthy and special.