his Life

Dad's Life Story

Dick was born December 9, 1922 in Hamlin, Kansas and spent his early years on a farm in Nebraska. He was a Boy Scout and participated in Future Farmers of America.

His parents, Richard and Hazel, sister Alfaretta, and Dick escaped the Dust Bowl conditions to come to California when he was about 12 years old. They lived in Hamilton City and then Biggs where Dick attended high school, excelling in football, basketball and track and performing with the Drama Club. He was proud of his record-breaking football throws.

Dick got his AA degree at Yuba College, continuing his successes in sports, and meant to go on to UC Davis to study forestry. Instead, he joined the US Army Corps of Engineers in May 1943 and participated in the invasions of Normandy and Omaha beaches. He was a skillful machine operator building air strips, and an expert M1 rifle marksman. While away in the service, Dick sent home his pay to buy his parents a home in Chico. He was awarded a number of ribbons and medals and the rank of Staff Sergeant, honorably discharged in December 1945.

Dick came home and worked a short time on heavy equipment before heading for the mountains with his trusted Husky, "King." He settled in the Mineral and Mill Creek area outside Lassen Park, ranch caretaking, trapping martens, logging for Collins Pine, building hand-split rail fencing, fishing and hunting—sometimes with his father but usually alone. He was mentored by "mountain men" of the region who forever shaped his lifestyle. Later, he skied across the Sierras doing snow surveys for PG&E.

Dick was lured to Squaw Valley in 1955 or 1956 when winter stopped the logging, and he joined the ski patrol in time to help Squaw Valley prepare for the 1960 Winter Olympics. Meanwhile, he was building a small home there, working on it mostly by himself, including hand splitting all the cedar shakes for his roof.

In June of 1960, Dick married Jeanne Kessey, a school teacher in Truckee, and carried her over the threshold of his new home. They raised four children--Eric, Carolyn, Ernie, Sheila--while Dick worked winters on patrol and summers cutting ski trails for Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. He assumed the Mountain Manager position, built the Squaw Valley tram, and loved sharing the adventures of those early experiences to the delight of listeners. Dick was featured in books about snow safety and the ski industry, including "The Avalanche Hunters," by Monty Atwater and "Mountain Dreamers," by Robert Frohlich. During that period he saw avalanche evolve from roped-up patrollers jumping onto slopes with hazardous snow to the introduction of explosives and canon for specific stabilization.

Bud Klein, the founder of a new ski area named Kirkwood under development near Carson Pass, was searching for just such an individual to head up the mountain expansion. In July of 1972, Dick was asked to be Mountain Manager by Janek Kunczynski, who was building the chair lifts. Dick felt excited about the challenges ahead, and started in August. The family joined him in the remote and challenging community before the opening day of December 15, 1972. They all felt the lasting appreciation and friendship of Bud Klein and his wife, Jane.

Deer hunting was always Dick’s great love, and he bagged deer every year, either in the Squaw Valley area or around Kirkwood. He also hunted Mt. Rose, Trinity Mts. and as far away as Colorado, and was a keen shot whether rifle, pistol or bow. He mentored his children and grandchildren in the sport. He was a proud member of the National Rifle Association and a lifetime member of the American Hunting Club. At the same time, he was busy clearing more and more ski trails and adding more chair lifts, one of which was named "The Reut" after him. He was an honorary member of the American Avalanche Association, and will always be remembered for his pioneering efforts in snow safety. His meticulous records and keen 6th sense in laying out the Kirkwood avalanche plan have greatly contributed to the no-loss record. Dick suffered several significant traumas throughout his career, yet his tenacity, perseverance and insurmountable work ethic always carried him forward and gained respect from all. He inspired the next generations of avalanche professionals.

After retiring from the ski resort in 1991, Dick continued his Reuter Tree Removal business, went fishing, collected and read many kinds of books, and even helped Jeanne with her licensed baby care business. Dick served his community on the Kirkwood Meadows Public Utility District (KMPUD) Board for 25 years, guiding thoughtful growth of the valley, and took some long-awaited vacations with Jeanne to Alaska and New Zealand. His love, dedication and loyalty to his family were undeniable. He is survived by his wife Jeanne, children Eric Reuter, Carolyn and her husband Kevin Cooper, Ernest Reuter and his wife Elisa, and Sheila Reuter. Grandchildren are Rachelle, Christopher, Katrina, Zack, Tina, Jake, and Rachelle’s brother Bradley Fons. Grandson Brandon is deceased.

Dick will be missed by his family and many friends, for whom he was an endless source of wisdom, humor, and much-loved practical advice. He touched many lives through his tireless dedication to the ski industry, and has been recognized with awards from the US Army, US Forest Service, CA Ski Industry Association, Kirkwood Resort, KMPUD, and the American Association of Avalanche Professionals.

A memorial gathering is planned for August 6th, 2 PM with full military honors in Kirkwood at the Village Plaza. (Remember Dick Reuter’s dress code.)

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in his name to the American Avalanche Association, P.O. Box 2831, Pagosa Spring, Colorado 81147 or, by donating to the Northern CA/NV Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk 2011, Team "Reuter’s Rooters"