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Fred Hutchison McNeil

Hall of Fame Class of 1958

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Fred McNeil was a newspaperman, winter sports enthusiast and the first president of the Pacific Northwest Ski Association. He served as vice-president of the National Ski Association for five years. McNeil, through his actions and writings, was the instrument that opened the door for skiers to America’s great Northwest.

Fred H. McNeil was born in Decatur, Illinois on March 21, 1893 but he spent most of his life in the pacific Northwest in Portland, Oregon. He was a mountain man at heart although he was virtually chained to his news desk at the Oregon Journal in Portland. In his articles he argued that the majestic mountain peaks were much more than a piece of scenery. He promoted the idea of their economic worth in tourism and recreation.

It was no accident that McNeil was the guiding hand when the skiers, first the jumpers and then the alpine recreational skiers, arrived. He insisted that the hardy few who braved clumsily built jumping hills as well as the adventurous but non-jumping entourage that gathered around them knew these mountains were much more than beautiful scenery. He vehemently expressed this point in print often and lived long enough to see his vision of economic worth come true.

Downhill and slalom races were virtually unheard of when McNeil spearheaded the Pacific Northwest Ski Association. He served as its president for the first five years of its existence, watching it grow from the overseeing body of a handful of jumping tournaments through the National Open and Amateur Championships of 1939 held on Mount Hood, to ultimately a powerful division of the United States Ski Association.

Fred McNeil was a crusty-surfaced individual, sometimes intimidating, with a pillow-soft interior. Those who knew him best respected him and honored his final request: that his ashes be scattered over his beloved Mount Hood’s 6000 foot level on the west side. This was where his heart was.

Fred McNeil labored hard in the development of skiing in the Pacific Northwest, as well as serving the National Ski Association as an advisor for legislative matters affecting skiing and its use of lands under the control of the United States Forest Service and the National Parks Service. He was instrumental in the development and public use of the mountains of the Pacific Northwest for the purpose of recreation and competitive skiing.

It is fitting that Fred H. McNeil was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in Ishpeming in early 1958, before faltering eyes closed forever later that year.

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