Timberline veteran

Passing Date: 
Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Henry Bendinelli

Henry Bendinelli, who first started skiing Oregon’s Mount Hood in 1936, before the opening of the historic Timberline Lodge, died on October 27, 2015. He was 91.

Born in 1924, Bendinelli grew up in a tight-knit Italian neighborhood in Portland. He learned to ski with his Boy Scout troop and made his first pair of skis in a high-school shop class. Through the 1930s, he spent almost every weekend the slopes. While working in a Portland ski shop as a teenager, he met Hjalmar Hvam, who had invented the Saf-Ski, the first releasable bindings. They remained friends for life.

After serving as a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, Bendinelli went to work for the ski area, earning $1.35 an hour with free lessons and lift tickets. He also began his career as a stockbroker, working as a ski instructor at Timberline on weekends so he could afford to take his four children skiing. He would head to the mountain on winter afternoons at 2 p.m., after the markets had closed back East, wearing his ski clothes over his business suit—or just skiing in his suit. He taught at the resort and was a popular fixture on the slopes, where everyone knew him as “Mr. Timberline.”

In 1970, he founded the Skikats club, leading hundreds of ski outings and parties. He skied until he was 90, and the club is still going strong. “Mr. Timberline” also founded the Snow Sportsmanship Program, which promoted the importance of honor and sportsmanship among young racers with the Oregon Interscholastic Ski Racing Association. (Sources: Oregon Live, The Oregonian)

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