Social Scene: Literary icon Robert ‘Fro’ Frohlich’s life celebrated at Olympic Village Inn | SierraSun.com

Social Scene: Literary icon Robert ‘Fro’ Frohlich’s life celebrated at Olympic Village Inn

Vicki Kahn
Special to the Sun

A lifetime of Fro's season ski passes hang from a pair of skis at his memorial service.

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. – He was North Tahoe’s own rock star. A crowd of more than 1,200 people memorialized his life Thursday, Nov. 11 at the Olympic Village Inn. Robert “Fro” Frohlich passed away at the age of 55, but in those years this Renaissance man became an icon in our mountain community. Known for his endearing “big teddy bear,” soft-spoken demeanor and his masterfully woven journalistic tapestries, his circle of friends encompassed a multitude from everyday people to world class athletes.

The program for the celebration of his life was thoughtfully crafted by his friends and sister, honoring his specific wishes to keep the program short. Squaw Valley donated the use of the newly remodeled Olympic Village Inn’s great room, and the standing room only crowd rimmed the perimeter of the huge hall several people deep as the rows of chairs filled up immediately. Some people were surprised at the overwhelming turnout for Fro, but most expected a big crowd, given the similar monolithic turnout a few years ago at an Alpine Meadows fundraiser after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Large parchment wall hangings along the entry wall were printed with samples of Fro’s prolific writings (these will also be displayed at the upcoming “In the Mood” multi-audio/visual benefit Dec. 1 at the Resort at Squaw Creek). Before and after the service, people leafed through a table of memorabilia and photos of Fro. But the quintessential symbol of his life was a pair of his Rossignol skis horizontally mounted on a stand displaying every season ski pass he ever owned hanging from original lanyards.

The service commenced a little late – on “Tahoe time” of course, filled with live music and singing by Kimba Madsen, Emcee Eric Brandt, and then heartfelt words and anecdotes by his close friends Peter Neuwirth, Douglas Dale, Keoki Flagg, Mark Baldwin and his sister Margaret Pearcy. Janet McNeil and Polly McGehee Triplat conducted a spiritual Indian ceremony with audience participation honoring the cycles of human nature along with an invocation of the four directions – earth, wind, water and fire. Video and slides were shown on the overhead screen including Fro’s amazing participation in the Billy Dutton Uphill race last spring, a candid up close and personal interview with him, and footage from his memorable Antarctica trip last fall filmed by fellow Ice Axe team member Liz Rogers. A no host bar and appetizers supplied by Mamasake, Bistro 22 and other Squaw Valley restaurants were served at the conclusion of the service.

Robert’s journalistic work has appeared in Snow Country, SKI, Skiing, Peaks, Powder, Couloir, Sierra Heritage, the San Francisco Chronicle, Moonshine Ink and Ski Area Management. He was a contributing editor for Tahoe Quarterly Magazine. He covered the 2002 Winter Olympics for the Sacramento Bee. He was also the author of the books “Mountain Dreamers: Visionaries of Sierra Nevada Skiing,” “Skiing With Style” and “Mountain Journal.”

A humble, exceptional and endearing man who moved to Squaw Valley back in 1977 was fondly remembered that afternoon. He was multi-talented as an award-winning journalist, fearless adventurer, skier, sailor, climber, all-star lacrosse and rugby player, high school football coach and English tutor. He paid his bills working as a bartender and tile layer, but will be remembered not only for his journalistic accomplishments, but also for his inspirational spirit, passion for skiing, and his love for the Tahoe mountain lifestyle. Fro lived life to the fullest, especially after his life-changing diagnosis, but he never let the disease get the best of him – fighting like a courageous warrior right ’til the end – joking he probably shouldn’t renew his magazine subscriptions. Those subscriptions may have expired by now, Fro, but your memory will never expire in the hearts and minds of those in this tightly knit mountain community.

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A scholarship fund has been set up in his memory at the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation to be awarded annually to a worthy local graduating senior. Call 530-587-1776 if you would like to donate. Fro’s up there with the Snow Gods now, smiling down on us …

– Vicki Kahn may be reached at vickikahn@sbcglobal.net