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Hunter Mountain co-founder Orville Slutsky dies at 96

April 19, 2013 at 9:27 PM   |   Comments

HUNTER, N.Y., April 19 (UPI) -- Orville Slutzky, one of two brothers who founded New York's Hunter Mountain ski resort with show business help, died at age 96, resort officials said Friday.

Slutzky, who died Thursday, offered with brother Israel Slutsky in 1958 to donate the land for skiing, with caveats the resort be called Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl and include the new technology of snow-making.

Hunter became New York's first ski mountain to use snow-making equipment and the world's first with top-to-bottom snow-making, officials said.

It became one of New York's premier ski mountain resorts.

The Slutsky brothers, who grew up in Hunter, offered to donate the land on the second-highest mountain in the Catskills, with the intention of stimulating economic growth in the mountain village of Hunter, 125 miles north of New York City, which suffered from long-term economic distress.

Skiing was growing in popularity after World War II.

The Slutskys and partner Karl Plattner Sr. first lobbied the state to develop a ski area on the mountain. When that failed, they approached New York Herald Tribune ski columnist Denise McCluggage, saying they had a mountain to give away to any developer who would build a ski area and agree to their caveats.

"The man said did I know someone who wanted a mountain?" McCluggage told United Press International Friday. "I knew someone who wanted a story that day."

McCluggage wrote a column that attracted the interest of Broadway show business people.

The Broadway group, headed by director-producer James Hammerstein, son of Oscar Hammerstein II of Rodgers and Hammerstein fame, created Hunter Mountain Development Corp., the mountain's first operator.

The Slutskys' I & OA Slutzky Inc. did the construction.

Hunter Mountain opened Jan. 9, 1960, and regularly attracted celebrities, which "gave it some class and cachet," McCluggage told UPI.

But the development corporation went bankrupt two years later and the Slutsky brothers took over, with Orville Slutzky becoming general manager.

The Slutskys expanded the ski lifts, cut new ski trails, built shops, a big ski lodge and other buildings and added more snow-making equipment.

Orville Slutzky remained general manager for half a century. Izzy Slutzky died in 2006.

The Slutzky brothers were honored in 2007 with the National Ski Areas Association's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Hunter Mountain officials said in a statement the Hunter community mourned Orville Slutzky's death, calling him "an innovator, a philanthropist, an inspirational leader, a father, grandfather and a beloved spirit."

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