Our loving father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend Martin Ray Hale, 81, passed away Sunday, July 8, 2018, in Columbia Falls, Montana of natural causes. He went peacefully surrounded by his daughters and their families.
Martin was born on Feb. 25, 1937, in Whitefish, Montana, to Arnold and Ann Hale. He was the oldest of three children. Martin graduated from Whitefish High School in 1955. He then went on to have four children of his own.
Martin spent the majority of his life up on Big Mountain both with the ski school as well as the ski shop. Martin eventually took over the operations from Karl Hinderman in 1972 and ran the business until retiring in 1995, totaling over 40 years on the mountain. Martin never let hard work slow him down and was always present with a smile on his face greeting all with “Nice Day.” As much as he loved working, Martin had a special place in his heart and a passion for providing opportunities so that kids could ski and enjoy what the sport had to offer.
When Martin was not up on Big Mountain, you could find him hunting and flying his floatplane, as well as serving as president of the Montana Sea Plane Association.
During his skiing career, he was the Junior National Champion of Alpine and Cross Country. He was also a two year state champion in track during high school. Martin became head coach for the Junior racing team in 1957-1971. He started the ski race program in 1972. Martin was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Whitefish High School and also inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Whitefish Ski Heritage Museum.
Martin followed his kids and grandkids through their school career with their sports and academic achievements.
Martin is survived by his daughter Naomi Hager of Whitefish, son Alrick Hale and Sherri of Whitefish; son Toni Hale and Kim of Gig Harbor, Washington; daughter Nanci Nicholson and Rob of Whitefish; grandchildren Ashley Nadeau and Erik, Justin Pacheco and Katie, Marni Kirkemo and Chris, Kalin Hale, Spencer Hale, Ryder Hale, Keaton Nicholson and Rebekah, and Haley Nicholson; great-grandchildren Wyatt Nadeau, Clayton Nadeau, and Mattea Kirkemo.
He was preceded in death by his grandson Hunter Martin Hale, his parents Arnold and Ann Hale, his sister Sandi Unger and Tom, and sister Sydney Watson.
A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 29, 2018 at Christ Lutheran Church in Whitefish. Darlington Cremation and Burial Service is caring for Martin’s family.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Martin Hale Youth Scholarship Fund. This scholarship will keep Martin’s spirit alive by again providing opportunities for kids to ski for years to come. Contributions can be made out to FVSEF (Flathead Valley Ski Education Foundation), PO Box 623, Whitefish, MT 59937.