Friday, August 17, 2007

Early Sun Valley skier Grace Sabala dies

Express Staff Writer

Boise resident Grace E. (Cassinelli) Sabala, 85, died of a heart attack Sunday, Aug. 5, while doing her daily workout. Mass was celebrated Friday, Aug. 10, at Sacred Heart Church with burial at Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise.

Sabala, who grew up in Portland, Ore., moved to Sun Valley the mid-1940s. She worked as a waitress and a ski instructor during her time in the Wood River Valley. Her then-roommate, Betty Bell of Ketchum, works at the Idaho Mountain Express.

"She had a friend who had the keys to run the lift and we'd borrow them and take the lift up on our own and ski down," Bell said. "She was a tiny little thing. Quite a gal.

"We shared a staff room in the Sun Valley Inn. We thought she was responsible. She knew people in the kitchen at Sun Valley, so when 13 of us climbed Hyndman Peak she was supposed to bring food. We got to the top and were really hungry and she opens her rucksack and pulls out individual Rice Krispies. We didn't throw her off the summit, but we sailed the Rice Krispies."

Sabala built her own house, by hand, on Knob Hill in Ketchum. She raced competitively and tried out for the U.S. Olympic Team. In June 1957, she married Manuel "Mink" Sabala, whose family name was given to a street in West Ketchum.

The Sabalas moved to Boise soon afterwards, where their two daughters, Teresa and Cecelia, were born. Grace continued ski instructing at Bogus Basin for another four decades. Her last ski outing was on Bogus with her 4-year-old granddaughter in the spring of 2006.

She is survived by her husband and two daughters, a son-in-law and two grandchildren, all of Boise.

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