By Jesse Wood (Reprinted with Permission)
Ten years after receiving the lifetime achievement award from the National Ski Areas Association, Grady Moretz, president and general manager of Appalachian Ski Mtn. for many years, was honored a little closer to home.
Earlier this week, the N.C. Ski Areas Association (NCSAA) honored Moretz for all of his work in establishing the High Country and other parts of the state as a premiere skiing and snowboarding destination. A number of friends, family and colleagues in the local skiing industry attended to congratulate Moretz.
“As a founding member of the NCSAA, the membership made it a priority to recognize Grady’s immense contribution to North Carolina skiing, his hard work, his leadership and his guidance – and to say “thank you,” NCSAA president Kim Jochl said.
The NCSAA was formed in the ‘70s. (Today, only Gunther Jochl of Sugar Mountain Resort and Moretz are the original founding members still on the NCSAA board.)
Jochl noted that Moretz has spent many years growing the NCSAA to ensure its prominence and relevance. He was also instrumental in creating the 1981 N.C. Skier’s Safety Act legislation and forging partnerships with the N.C. Department of Transportation and the N.C. Department of Travel and Tourism for those brown directional signs that you see along the highway directing motorists to the resorts.
“Those partnerships still exist today,” Jochl said. “He has made a lasting impression on North Carolina skiing.”
Moretz began his career at Blowing Rock Ski Lodge, what is now Appalachian Ski Mtn., in 1961. V.L. Moretz & Son Lumber supplied the materials to build the Blowing Rock Ski Lodge and received payment in the form of the ski company’s stock. Because he was a stockholder now, Grady was automatically placed on the board of directors of the ski lodge.
When the Blowing Rock Ski Lodge went bankrupt, Moretz purchased the company with four other partners. While Moretz took over management that year, Moretz and his family didn’t become the sole owners until 1986.
Under his tenure, Appalachian Ski Mtn. has grown to include two quad chairlifts (the first in North Carolina), ice skating and more. The mountain was the first in the Southeast to offer night skiing and use airless snowmaking. Skier visits have increased from about 12,000, to more than 100,000 annually, ASM President Brad Moretz said.
Brad noted that his father was moved by this award and recalled that in 2005, his father was brought to tears when the National Ski Areas Association honored Grady with the lifetime achievement award.
But just as devoted as Grady Moretz was to Appalachian Ski Mtn. and the local ski industry, he put the family in “family business.” His wife, Reba, has been apart of the resort for years and their children Brad and Brenda Speckmann manage the mountain today.
“My father was and still is very devoted to his family, as well as his family business. He instilled a strong work ethic in my brother and I at a young age, but better yet how to treat people with compassion. He was a great role model for us in all that he has done locally for this community and on a state level too,” Speckmann said. “Dad was a very hard-working father who made time for his family and gave back much to his community! My wish and prayer would be for him to be able to see his grandchildren have the passion to continue to carry on the family business that he worked so hard to establish!
Special thanks to Ken Ketchie of High Country Press for the permission to reprint this story honoring one of the greats of the ski industry. Visit High Country Press for all of the local High Country News.