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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of April 23 - 29, 2003

News

Soldier Mountain
founder killed
in vehicle accident


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

Three months after helping Soldier Mountain Ski Area celebrate its 55th birthday in February, the ski areaís co-founder, Bob Frostenson, died last week in an automobile accident near Gooding. He was 94.

Even in his 90s, Frostenson, a life-long Idahoan and Camas Prairie farmer, maintained a youthful wit and said in an interview last winter he believed a day without learning a lesson was a day wasted. At the age of 92, he learned how to jump off Bald Mountain while dangling beneath a parasail. He said he would have done it every day if could have.

Bob Frostenson

So perhaps it wasnít a coincidence that an appreciation for flight helped draw him to skiing in the 1940s.

"It was the closest recreation to flying like a bird," he wrote in a history about the Soldier Mountain Ski Area.

The accident that claimed Frostensonís life occurred Thursday, April 17, on Highway 46, just north of the Gooding city limit.

According to Jerry Pierce, Gooding County Sheriffís Office Chief Deputy, Frostenson was driving south in a 2001 Toyota Camry when he crossed a rise on the road and collided with the rear of a slow-moving pickup truck that had just pulled out of a driveway. The Camry flipped, and Frostenson, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected.

He was pronounced dead at Gooding County Memorial Hospital, Pierce said.

Frostenson was born in Manard, Idaho, on Dec. 4, 1909 and was raised on a homestead on the Camas Prairie. He attended school in a one-room schoolhouse.

After graduating from high school in 1930, Frostenson married Gladys Hall from Ola, Idaho, on June 15, 1932, and the two settled on the Camas Prairie to farm and raise their family.

In the summer of 1948, after watching the 1948 Winter Olympic tryouts in Sun Valley, Frostenson and his friend, Harry Durall, decided they couldnít turn their backs on the sport of skiing. They raised $10,000, began work on a base lodge and purchased two rope tows, the first powered by a 1938 Chevrolet engine.

They cut timber, installed lifts and built lodges by hand. The building years were among Frostensonís most notable memories of the ski area.

"It was a hell of a lot of work," Frostenson remembered.

Though it took 10 years to get the operation in the black, steady expansion and a growing awareness about skiing in general eventually paid off.

"When we started, if we had 20 people up here, we had a crowd," Frostenson said. "When I quit in 1973, we had lots of buses of school kids coming. Once the school kids were skiing, well pretty soon you had the whole family skiing.

"We always catered to family skiing. We figured the family that skis together stays together, and I think thatís true."

For his part, Frostenson said he was merely happy to have contributed to the sport of skiing.

"Iím just glad itís still here," he said. "It makes you feel good."

Frostensonís life was a lot more than skiing.

When he was in his 70s, he began to write articles for the Fairfield newspaper about pioneering days on the Camas Prairie, and he was recently compiling the columns into a book.

He was a member of the Fairfield Community Church, the Hailey Masonic Lodge and the Shriners. He continued to drive his farm machinery until the day before his death, "enjoying the fresh air and blue skies of his beloved Camas Prairie," according to his obituary, which appeared in The Times News on April 20.

Frostenson is survived by his wife, Gladys Frostenson; two sons, Ted (Marian) of Bend, Ore, Jack (Linda) of Fairfield; one sister, Anna Hyatt of Fairfield; seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. His parents; one daughter, Polly Jo Kramer; two brothers, Sten and Peter; and two sisters, Swanhild and Alice preceded him in death.

Funeral services were held Tuesday at the Fairfield Community Church.

 

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