The Flathead Ski Heritage Center and the Flathead Valley Ski Education Foundation have announced that two original Winter Sports, Inc. Board members Russ Street and Roy Duff, and long-time Ski Instructor Al Raddatz will be the 2017 inductees into the Ski Heritage Center Hall of Fame.
The trio joins a group of 13 prior inductees.
The induction ceremony and reception will take place on Friday, March 17 at the O’Shaughnessy Center. Doors open at 6 p.m. with the induction ceremony at 7 p.m.
Canadian Olympic Ski champion “Jungle” Jim Hunter will give the keynote address.
Tickets are $35 and available at Glacier Bank, downtown Kalispell and Whitefish, and online at www.fvsef.org.
The Hall of Fame induction kicks off the 2017 HellRoaring Ski Heritage Days, which includes a full day of activities at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Saturday, March 18.
For more information contact Tim Hinderman at 406-885-2730, or visit www.fvsef.org.
Russ Street was all about Whitefish. His presence in his hometown amounted to much more than just the grocery store he operated on Central Avenue.
Russ was there at the founding of Big Mountain Resort and became a member of its first board of directors. He helped build the fledgling resort’s first rope tow, which was run by a truck motor. And despite his downtown business, he was available in those early days for any job that needed to be done on the mountain — be it parking cars, running lifts, or delivering food from Street’s Grocery (and accepting company stock when there was no money to pay for the food). He and his wife Mary Jane were among the locals who helped keep the ski resort financially afloat in those difficult times.
Russ and Mary Jane spent their entire lives in Whitefish. Besides the grocery store, which was also a fresh meat shop, they developed and marketed Alpine Touch, a unique seasoning that is now sold all over the country. And they owned and operated Bay Point Condominiums at a choice location on Whitefish Lake. They were among the so-called “dirty dozen” who started the Whitefish Winter Carnival, which continues more than 50 years later.
Russ and Mary Jane typified the spirit of volunteerism that was key to the growth of Big Mountain Resort and the city of Whitefish itself.
Roy Duff was a colorful figure who served two terms as Whitefish mayor, 20 years as a member of the volunteer fire department, and 18 years on the Big Mountain board of directors. He also was a member of the Montana Highway Commission longer than any other commissioner, putting the present Big Mountain Road on the commission’s agenda.
Roy and his wife, Norma, owned and operated Whitefish Taxi, which they founded after he came home from World War II, where he had taken part in three major Southwest Pacific Army campaigns. He brought a Hertz Rental Car franchise to Whitefish and branched out to a school bus operation as well. Roy’s taxis, equipped with rooftop ski racks, met the trains bringing skiers to Big Mountain.
Chewing on his ever-present cigar, Roy was conceded to be the unofficial beer-drinking champion of Whitefish. He did not follow the normal hours of most people; he worked and partied until he got tired, slept for a while and resumed his schedule, day or night. This lifestyle served him especially well when he was King Ullr of the Whitefish Winter Carnival in 1969.
Roy’s 2008 obituary speculated that the number of civic organizations he belonged to probably was greater than those that he didn’t. And it added that in his final hours in the hospital, he asked that his dry mouth be swabbed with a beer-soaked sponge.
Coming from the small southwestern Montana town of Lima, skiing was certainly not on Al Raddatz’s radar while growing up. However, after several years as a ranch foreman and heavy equipment operator at a ranch near Lakeview, Al found himself on the slopes of Sun Valley, Idaho, learning to ski. This began a love affair with the sport that would last throughout his lifetime.
In 1967 Al moved to Whitefish and began his career as a ski instructor at the Karl Hinderman Ski School on Big Mountain. His love of people and love for skiing was the perfect combination, and Al sought to teach at every opportunity — group lessons, private lessons, Ladies Day lessons and even junior ski racers.
A highlight of Al’s school teaching career came in 1996 when he was named one of the Top 100 Ski Instructors in America by Skiing Magazine.
Many who knew Al from skiing did not know that during the summer months he was up on that same mountain bulldozing new ski trails as the resort was expanding the ski terrain.
“Al had an eye for building ski runs like no other,” said Steve Spencer, long-time Mountain Manager at Big Mountain. Al’s bulldozer skills also took him to Schweitzer Resort in Idaho and as far away the Aleutian Islands.
Al passed away in 2016, appropriately atop his bulldozer near Haskill Mountain.