Orville Slutzky 1917-2013

Orville Slutzky
Orville Slutzky

Orville Slutzky was born in 1917 and developed a love for skiing early in life. Raised on a farm in the Catskills, he and his brother Israel made their own skis and slid down the gentle slopes of the farm owned by their father Isaac.

In the 1950’s the sport of skiing was gaining popularity in New York. A group of businessmen, lead by Orville and his brother Israel, developed plans to create a ski resort at Hunter Mountain. When plans to work with New York state didn’t materialize, the brothers sought other investors to advance the project. They created the Hunter Mountain Development Corporation, the first operator of the ski area.

The brothers were pioneers in snowmaking technology which was new at that time. The Slutzky Brothers’ Construction Company built the resort from the ground up. On January 9, 1960, Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl opened for the first time.

The Hunter Mountain Development Corporation faced adversity and bankruptcy. But the Slutzky brothers were not deterred. In the middle of the 1961-62 season Orville and Israel took full control of the ski area.

The brothers were relentless innovators, always willing to try new things. In 1964 Hunter became the first area in the world with top-to-bottom snowmaking with the completion of water lines to the summit. By the mid-1960s skier visits increased dramatically and the brothers reinvested profits to grow the business. New trails were cut and more snowmaking was installed. In 1980, Hunter Mountain became the first ski area to have snowmaking coverage on 100 percent of its trails.

The story of Hunter Mountain is a tale of determination and Orville Slutzky was a driving force behind skiing in New York State. Today Hunter is one of the most successful ski resorts in the northeast.

Orville’s Slutsky passed away peacefully, in the company of friends and family today at the age of ninety-six. He had an indomitable spirit and will be missed. A celebration of his life and funeral services will take place on Sunday, April 21, at 10 A.M. in the Colonel’s Hall of the main base lodge at Hunter Mountain.

NYSkiBlog sends our sincere condolences and best wishes to the Slutzkys and the entire Hunter Mountain family.

Photo courtesy of Hunter Mountain.

12 comments on “Orville Slutzky 1917-2013

  1. We mourn the loss of an innovator, a philanthropist, a leader, a father, a grandfather, an inspiration and a beloved spirit. A celebration of his life and funeral services will take place on Sunday, April 21, at 10 A.M. in the Colonel’s Hall of the main base lodge at Hunter Mountain.

  2. A sad day for those of us who love the Catskills and skiing at Hunter. We have lost a great person.

  3. Wow, really, a major figure in ski hill management, if you just consider volume of skiers relative to mountain size. RIP, Orville, and I’ll bet God may be giving you a hard time about making ten times as much snow as he could on that mountain.

  4. I will definitely miss Orville. He was a wonderful guy always going around the lodge checking out to make sure that everything was going smooth. It was hard to tell if he was an owner or a employee, but you can say that he always cared for his place.

  5. I first met Orville in 1973 when I went to Hunter Mtn during the German Alps Festival. I was there promoting donations for the US Ski Team. We sold T-shirts, pins, patches etc. and I have a wonderful picture of Orville with me and the team of pretty girls decked out in short shorts and US Ski Team T- Shirts. Boy did he have a big smile on his face.

  6. Orville taught me a great deal about the ski industry and how to manage it back in the 70s when I managed the Hunter Mt ski shop for Emilio and Herta De Turris. I made many good friends while working there who all thought Orville was a tough task master. I now live in Oroville wa. and ski at a small ski resort in B.C. that Orville would love, Mt. Baldy.

    Ski -Ya Orville
    Jim Barber

  7. Thanks for this, I didn’t know much about the history of Hunter or Mr. Slutzky. Very interesting read. His hard work and innovation is much appreciated. RIP!

  8. I will always remember Mr. Slutzky. Each morning I would pass his office and he would always have a HI for me. We would talk and he knew so much. As I would leave the office I would say to him “Have a Great Day” and he would reply to me “You have to make it a Great Day..It doesn’t just happen. What a wise man. He was a very nice and caring man. I was always amazed that he would be at work every single day. I realized that it was his life. He loved it there He and his Brother gave birth to Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl.

    My sense of Mr. Slutzky was that he was a good caring person and I will never forget him.

  9. Great job on the history of Hunter Mountain and I am delighted to hear it is still in the Slutzky family! I still remember when the the 2 brothers, Orville and Izzy would walk around the lodge cleaning up, and whatever they missed a big beautiful St Bernard would be walking around following them making sure no food was left around! I believe it was one of their dogs, always walking around the lodge.

    Yes, who could forget that pool in the middle of the lodge! I remember going to Camp Greene Hollow in 1969, somewhere near a drive in theatre off of 23A (Possibly Rt. 296?) That entire summer we continually heard blast after blast and later realized they were starting to build Hunter West. Also the same summer of landing on the moon for the first time! Also known for enjoying my first Rheingold Beer in town (Town Tavern?)

    Anyone remember Sol Goldman, who had a trailer home on 23A about a mile or 2 south of the mountain, heading towards Tannersville. How about a place called St James Infirmary, think it was a bar or restaurant. Hunter Mountain will always have a place in my heart, as will the Slutzky’s who brought great skiing to NY! Miss those $10 lift tickets too! Thank You and continued success to the 2nd generation Slutzky’s.

  10. Thanks for writing this. His and his family legacy are going to be reverberating for generations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *