Hundreds celebrate life of South Tahoe ski legend Martin Hollay

Ashleigh Goodwin / TahoeDaily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif.  — The ski community of South Lake Tahoe came together Saturday to celebrate the life of the vivacious, lively, gentle, loving, legendary skier Martin Hollay. 

Friends and family gather for Martin Hollay’s celebration of life.

The attendance for the celebration of life for Hollay on Saturday was proof that he was legendary in the community. Hundreds of people took over the closed section of June Way to tell stories, laugh, cry and honor the man who had such an impact on the community and Heavenly Mountain Resort.

“I am very overwhelmed by all of this,” said Martin’s daughter Piroska Cezi Hollay. “My father was just a very loving, giving gentleman. He loved the ladies; he loved a good time, and he loved his life. He loved that mountain very much. He put his heart and soul, blood sweat and tears in that mountain.”

Martin Hollay, Heavenly Ski Legend, built a fence made of skis.

Mike McKeen attuned the celebration and met Hollay when he was just 23 years old.

“When he was on trail crew he helped educate us,” McKeen said. “He was like the ambassador; he was the man of the mountain. He maintained it, he fixed problem trees.”

Several attendees spoke of the chainsaw hanging around Hollay’s neck as he skied in search of trouble areas that might be hazardous to others.  

Paul Kushner, a good friend of Hollay, said, “Martin was on the mountain every day up until his 90’s. He also made leather hats and gloves that were popular all over the basin. He sold them out of his house by word of mouth. He had a lot more business than he could deal with.”

During the ceremony the hats and gloves were mentioned and many in the crowd raised theirs in the air. 

Paul Kushner walks to the Botton of June way for Martin Hollay’s celebration of life.

“He was a welcoming spirit. He was a gentle soul and took his time to be with everyone,” said  Curtis Fong, past on-air personality for television and radio in South Lake Tahoe, business owner, founder and CEO of TGFT Productions, LLC / Bike the West and one of the founders of the Alta Alpina Cycling Club in 1983.

Fong said that he and Hollay had what he called mutual respect friendship.

“We would see each other on the mountain, and I was the media guy,” Fong said. “He was kind enough to give me his time. He’s a legend on the mountain.”

Reporter Ashleigh Goodwin can be reached at The Tribune is a sister publication of the Sun.

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