Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Florence Froehlich dies in Arizona

She was wife of the legendary Sepp Froehlich

Express Staff Writer

Florence Froehlich, 89, the wife of legendary Sun Valley Ski School instructor Sepp Froehlich, died Tuesday, Dec. 18, at the Grandview Care Center in Sun City West, Ariz.

The former Florence Price of Emmett, Idaho, died peacefully of complications from a series of strokes. She lived near her sister Colleen Armstead and her husband, Robert Armstead, of Sun City West.

Final viewing in Sun City West took place Saturday, Dec. 22. Cremation followed. The family plans a memorial in Sun Valley early in the summer of 2008. Florence will be buried next to her husband at Ketchum Cemetery.

The Froehlichs were married Nov. 28, 1946, in Las Vegas. One month later, Sepp Froehlich, a pioneer Austrian skier from Bad Ischl, started what became a 34-year stint with the Sun Valley Ski School.

During his long and distinguished career with the ski school, Froehlich served under directors Friedl Pfeifer, Otto Lang, John Litchfield, Sigi Engl, Paul Ramlow and Rainer Kolb. By 1949, Froehlich's teaching and public relations skills led him into private lessons exclusively. He became ski school supervisor in 1953.

"I always have felt that if a person couldn't learn to ski with Sepp, he was a hopeless case. Sepp always instilled a great deal of confidence in his pupils," said Florence.

Froehlich became assistant director of the ski school in 1972-73 and served in that capacity until his retirement in January 1981. He died of cancer Feb. 12, 1982, in Seattle at age 73.

His wife, Florence, was a member of an 11-person committee of local residents that started in 1983 to raise money for a permanent memorial honoring ski school pillars Froehlich and Sigi Engl.

A donation of land near Sun Valley Lodge by Sun Valley owner Earl Holding was instrumental to the final memorial—bronze statues of Engl and Froehlich that are located near the ski school office in Sun Valley Village. Those statues were dedicated in 1986.

The statues were created from an old Sun Valley photograph taken of Engl and Froehlich walking side by side in Sun Valley Village, Engl carrying skis and wearing sunglasses, and Froehlich walking by his friend. They are both wearing the white ski instructor caps pioneered by the great Hannes Schneider of Austria.

Ski instructor and artist Ralph Harris made the models for the two life-sized figures.

Froehlich's history was the stuff of movies. He started skiing at age 3. He was Austria's senior ski jumping champion in 1930. He came to the U.S. in 1937 and married Natalie Rogers, a banking family heiress. The Rogers family had the 49-acre Aspen Acres estate located on a hill south of Ketchum overlooking the highway. He and his first wife started coming to ski in 1938.

In 1941, Froehlich was skiing with American racing great Dick Durrance at Alta, Utah, when federal agents arrested him and charged Froehlich with being an enemy alien. He was in custody for 16 months. After being released, Froechlich returned to Sun Valley and volunteered for the U.S. Army.

He served as a rock climbing, skiing and mountain evacuation instructor with the famed 10th Mountain Division. Froehlich was sent to the Pacific Theater, where he was nominated for a Silver Star for evacuating wounded Americans at Corregidor.

Divorced from his first wife during the war, Froehlich returned to Sun Valley and married the former Florence Price in 1946. They eventually sold the Aspen Acres property to Michael Engl, the son of Sigi Engl.

The property could be identified by passers-by because of its prominent American flag.

In later years, Florence Froehlich enjoyed playing golf with friends in Sun Valley and participating in civic organizations. She was actively involved in the David Ketchum American Legion Auxiliary. She moved to Arizona three years ago to be closer to family.

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