ROTTERDAM -- George H. Mulyca, who founded the Maple Ski Ridge ski area in the Rotterdam hills more than a half-century ago, has died.
Mulyca, 86, of Rotterdam, died last Saturday at his home.
"It is with great sadness that Maple Ski Ridge announces the passing of George Mulyca, the founder of Maple Ski Ridge," the small resort posted Monday on Facebook. "George will be missed greatly by all past and present skiers and snowboarders as well as by the Maple Ski Ridge Family. We thank George for his many contributions to the skiing community and his dedication to bringing family fun to our community."
His two daughters are now operating the ski area, which remains a family-run business now into the third and fourth generation. A lifelong skier, he had been on skis as recently as age 80, his family said.
Daughter Marilyn Peterson, Maple Ski Ridge's president and general manager, said the small ski area's longevity in a world of large ski resorts is a tribute to her father. "Dad instilled in us, as small as we were, you can't spend money you don't have," she said. "That helped us get through the last few winters with so little snow."
"He was always open-minded to the changes in the industry," she added. "We had to do more."
Former Gazette ski writer Bill Rice said Mulyca was a fixture at the base lodge even in recent years, and always friendly. "He and the whole family were very instrumental in keeping a wonderful family area going," Rice said. "So many people I'd talk to, I'd ask where they got started, and it was Maple Ridge. He was always in the lodge kind of looking over things."
Family members noted they've also met many skiers at larger areas who learned the sport at Maple Ski Ridge. A nephew, Bill Enos, is a retired coach for the U.S. Olympic snowboard team, and also learned to ski on Maple Ridge.
George Mulyca was the eldest of three sons who enjoyed skiing and devised a plan for a ski area on a hill on family-owned farmland in the winter of 1963. With some prodding, they got their father to bulldoze what would become the cleared ski slopes, according to a 2013 Daily Gazette article, and the family started using it.
“We walked up most of the time,” George Mulyca recalled at that time. Soon, though, they built a lift, a lodge, and other facilities to appeal to the public.
Today, Maple Ski Ridge has a double and triple chair, two rope tows, eight snow jets and lights for night skiing. There’s a lodge at the bottom and a ski shop for rentals. The ski area now has year round activities, including a summer camp.
Mulyca was a member of the National Ski Patrol, the National Ski Patrol Association and the Ski Area Association of New York.
He is survived by daughters Peterson of Delanson, and Carolyn S. LaHart of Rotterdam, who is manager of the mountain. Molyca also had four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He also had a brother, David, of Rotterdam, and a sister, Cindy Enos Perillo of New Hampshire.
Calling hours will be 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Bond Funeral Home, Broadway and Guilderland Avenue in Schenectady. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Christ Church of the Hills, 4809 Mariaville Road, Rotterdam. There also will be a visitation prior to the service starting at 9 a.m.
Contributions may be made to Community Hospice, 445 New Karner Road, Albany, NY, 12205.