Bill Saunders - Jackson Hole ski pioneer

Passing Date

William Dale Saunders, a cattle rancher who drove the development of ski racing in Jackson, Wyoming, died September 13 after a traffic accident near his home in Bondurant. He was 93.

Born on a ranch in Jackson, Saunders grew up skiing the local hills. As a teen he was a rodeo cowboy, worked on construction at Snow King Resort, and talked the school board into funding the original Jackson Hole High School Ski Team. Graduating in 1943, he joined the Marine Corps and fought in the landing at Peleliu. After discharge in 1946, he worked on a local ranch and at Snow King.

In 1951, while attending Utah State University, Saunders tried out for the U.S. Olympic ski team but fell. That year he married Martha Ann Kibble. The couple opened a ski shop and café at the base of Snow King, and had five kids. Saunders coached young ski racers and served as president of the Jackson Hole Alpine Club. With Paul McCollister, Willy Schaeffler and Barry Corbet, he helped scout the trails on Rendezvous Peak, which would become the Jackson Hole ski resort. He ran a successful cattle operation and for some years owned the local rodeo, and ran a guide service for hunters.

Saunders was inducted into the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2015, and into the Jackson Hole Ski Club Hall of Fame in 2018. —S.M.