Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Robert E. Mickelson

Robert "Bob" Eugene Mickelson passed away peacefully in his sleep April 30, 2011, in Boise, Idaho, where he had lived for the last 13 months after moving from Sun Valley where he had resided since 1975. He was born Feb. 25, 1924, to Walter and Ethel Mickelson of Sioux Falls, S.D., and grew up in Minneapolis, Minn., where he was known as "Bobby." A gifted athlete, he was on the U.S. B-team for the Olympics in high and low hurdles, played high school and semi-pro football and was a Golden Gloves boxer.

After high school, Bob studied for several years at the University of Minnesota. As soon as he was eligible, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Air Corps. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in June of 1947, after achieving the title of regimental commander, the highest military honor accorded to a cadet.

After his naval service, Bob hitchhiked around the United States and ultimately returned to the University of Minnesota where he earned his bachelor's of business administration degree in 1948. He earned his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1950.

While attending Harvard, he met Mary Louise Cleave, a Washington state native and student at Simmons College. They married in January of 1951 in Seattle, Wash., and honeymooned in Sun Valley.

By 1956, they had two children, a son, Marc, and a daughter, Heidi. In 1959, Bob felt that too much business travel was preventing him from being a part of his children's lives, so he took a leave of absence from work and the family traveled in a Volkswagen camper throughout Europe for 18 months. They raised their children in Lakewood, Wash., making regular visits to Sun Valley whenever they could.

Bob's career was deeply influenced by his love of the outdoors and sports. His first job after Harvard was in the men's clothing business with Seattle Woolen Company, and later Day's Tailored Clothing. There he founded and was president of a new subsidiary, Edelweiss Ski Wear, manufacturer of the first stretch ski pants in the U.S. and outfitter of the 1964 U.S. Olympic Ski Team.

In 1967, he left the clothing business to manage full-time the ski area he created, developed and co-founded, Alpental, outside of Seattle, WA. Later real estate ventures included three condominium projects at Alpental; the Edelweiss condominiums at the base of Warm Springs in Sun Valley; co-development of the Pioneer Inn at Bogus Basin outside of Boise; and numerous consulting positions for various projects and developments throughout the Northwest.

Career honors include induction into the Apparel Hall of Fame in in 1957, and the Pacific Northwest Ski Hall of Fame in 2004. He also was founder and an original member of the board of directors of the Ski Industries of America.

In 1981, he and Mary Lou divorced, though they remained friends throughout his life. Brought together by their love of travel and sports, he and Joan Donaldson Robb met and married in 1983 and their travelling adventures began soon thereafter. Together they traveled the world in a series of RV caravan excursions, bareboat charter trips and extended cruises. They enjoyed skiing, tennis and golf together and loved entertaining their many friends.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Betty Mickelson Tyrholm; and his wife, Joan Robb Mickelson. He is survived by his son, Marc Mickelson; granddaughter, Cassandra Dawn Mickelson; his daughter, Heidi Mickelson; son-in-law, Danny Beritich; grandson, Zachary Daniel Mickelson; his four step-children, Jodie Robb, Tom Robb, Don Robb and John Robb; and seven step-grandchildren.

Bob leaves behind not only the legacy he created through his real estate developments, but also the many lives he touched and inspired throughout his 87 years. His strong spirit, love of life, positive attitude, warm smile, twinkling blue eyes and gracious treatment of those around him will be missed by all who were lucky enough to know him.

Friends and family are invited to a celebration of his life to be held Sunday, June 26, 2011, from 2-4 p.m. at The Grill at the Knob Hill Inn in Ketchum, Idaho. Stories and favorite memories are welcome! In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Elks Rehabilitation Hospital in Boise, Idaho or the Hospice of the Wood River Valley in Ketchum, Idaho.

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