BEND, Ore. - Bill Healy, who founded the Mount Bachelor ski resort and built it into a major tourist attraction, died Tuesday after a long struggle with Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 68.
Born in Portland, Mr. Healy moved to Bend in the early 1950s to run the family's furniture store. In 1958, he raised $75,000 to start Mount Bachelor Inc. with a one-year lease from the Forest Service.
"He had always dreamed of having a ski area there on Bachelor," said longtime friend Mac Bosch. "He had a vision that it was going to be a big operation, a real first-class ski area."
When it first opened, Mount Bachelor had one lift. Today the resort has more than 10 chairlifts and four lodges.
Mr. Healy established Mount Bachelor as a leader in the ski industry. The resort was one of the first in the country to switch to high-speed chairlifts and a computerized ticket system.
Mr. Healy ran the furniture store while operating the ski resort on the side until the mid-1970s, Bosch said. But the ski resort became a fulltime job as Mr. Healy oversaw the construction of lifts in the 1960s and promoted the area.
"Once he had to go to Portland and raise $1 million for the company that day. He did it before sunset," Bosch remembered.
In 1981, Mr. Healy was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease. He stepped down as president in 1988, but continued coming to work every day until he entered the hospital in mid-October.
Bosch said he drove Mr. Healy up to check on the construction of Mount Bachelor's latest lift last week.
Mr. Healy is survived by his wife, Beverly, four children from his first marriage, and four stepchildren.
A memorial service is scheduled for 9 a.m. tomorrow at St. Francis Church in Bend.