Ski jumper, resort founder

Passing Date: 
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Gustav (Gus) Raaum, the ski jumping champion who supervised construction of Big Sky Resort, died Dec. 28 at age 88.
Born in Brevik, Norway, Gus grew up in Lillehammer and in high school competed in soccer, track and speed skating -- and excelled in ski jumping. During the German occupation in World War II, he boycotted Nazi-sponsored ski jumping events but continued to train with his friends, in secret. 
In 1946, Gus won the junior class in ski jumping at Holmenkollen. Overnight, Gus became a national hero and earned a berth on the national team. The following year, when the Norwegian team toured the United States, he stayed in Seattle and enrolled at the University of Washington. Because he spoke little English, Gus focused on number and majored in accounting. While jumping for the UW Ski Team, he twice won the NCAA ski jumping championship and was named All American. He courted another undergraduate, Claire Thompson, and they were married upon graduation in 1950. 
After 17 years as a CPA in Seattle, in 1967 Gus was recruited by Jackson Hole Ski Corp., which needed a VP/general manager with accounting expertise. He was quickly promoted to president and turned the money-losing organization around. In 1970 he was recruited by Chet Huntley to oversee the development of the Big Sky of Montana resort near Bozeman. Eight years later, Gus returned to Seattle to join old friend Harold Hill to form Hill-Raaum Investment Company, which later became Hill-Raaum-Pietromonaco.
Gus was a founder of the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard, and a proud member of the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce, Norwegian Commercial Club and Sons of Norway. He was very active within the international ski world, including 16 years as the Chairman of the FIS Ski Jumping Committee. He officiated and attended seven Winter Olympic Games and seven World Ski Championships as well as national and regional ski jumping competitions. In 1980, Gus was Chief of Competition for ski jumping at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. He received numerous awards and recognition for his involvement in organized skiing. He was elected to the US National Ski Hall of Fame in 1980. He also served as president of HK, an exclusive and somewhat mysterious worldwide ski-oriented friendship society that includes his friend King Harald of Norway.
Gus was past president and 30-year member of Mercer Island Rotary Club. In addition to skiing, his hobbies included golf, fly-fishing, attending Husky football games, and sailing on his 20-foot Ranger, the Uff Da.
Gus was predeceased by his loving wife of 62 years, Claire. He is survived by his three children, David (Patricia Lorenzo), Christian (Joanie Bishop), and Lisbeth Raaum Harris (John); six grandchildren, Christopher, Jennifer, Allison, Erik, Courtney, Erika and great grandson Jackson; niece Mette Raaum and nephew Fred Raaum, both of Sweden, and brother S.F. Dick Raaum of Sequim.

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