Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Skier and baker Jack Flaherty dies

Ketchum resident came to valley in 1951

Express Staff Writer

Mary Ann and Jack Flaherty ride their bikes together on a brisk day in 2002. Photo by Willy Cook

Former Warm Springs resident Jack Flaherty, who lived in the Ketchum area for more than half a century, is remembered as a kind man who always had a smile for people.

Flaherty died Saturday at the age of 80.

He arrived in the Wood River Valley from Malden, Mass, in June 1951. He worked as Sun Valley Co.'s baker and pastry chef until his retirement in 1993 after 40 years on the job.

His wife, Mary Ann Flaherty, was here first. She came from Omaha, Neb., for a summer vacation in 1949 and stayed.

"I had never seen a pair of skis," she said. "We were married in Omaha on Nov. 22, 1952. This year on Thanksgiving Day will be our 55th anniversary."

He didn't take to Omaha, Mary Ann said. "A couple years later, he took me to Boston, and I didn't like it there. This was the only place we both liked and we're very glad we both stayed."

The couple raised four children: Mike Flaherty of Boise, Donna Scifres and Bill Flaherty of Bellevue, and Kathy Dempsay of Jerome.

"He loved to hike," Mary Ann said. "When the kids were young we'd hike at the lakes up north. He hunted in his younger days but skiing was his primary thing. He skied until probably five years ago."

His first ski season in Sun Valley in 1951-1952 was a memorable one. It boasted a record snowfall that measured 7 feet on the valley floor. An East Coast transplant who came for the prospect of long seasons and good snow, Flaherty was not disappointed in Bald Mountain.

That season a snow slide occurred on lower Broadway. He wrote a guest article about it for the Idaho Mountain Express in 2002. A ski instructor, Victor Gottschalk, and three out-of-town students were buried in the slide, which began at the back of Lookout. He joined approximately 50 people who climbed up to the slide from Cold Springs to help dig the victims out. Flaherty wrote that despite the tragedy it was an exceptional year of skiing. He wrote that the snow was so high one had to enter various businesses in Ketchum through tunnels in the snow.

"He loved everyone and tried to make people feel good," Mary Ann said. "He was a very compassionate man. He never put anyone down. He had heart disease since he was 34—he never expected to live this long. So he was very pleased."

Flaherty was at home in Warm Springs with his family when he died.

Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 17, at Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge in Sun Valley.

Editor's note: An obituary for Jack Flaherty is scheduled for publication next week.

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