The First Lady of Squaw Valley, Gladys “Sandy” Poulsen, passed away quietly on Sept. 2, 2007 following a courageous battle with cancer.
Sandy joins her husband of 53 years, Wayne, deceased in 1996.
It was in 1941 on the ski slopes of Sun Valley, Idaho, that Sandy first met her future husband and heard about Squaw Valley. Born August 3, 1918 in Buffalo, New York and daughter of a textile industrialist, the young debutante grew up in the penthouse of the Sherry Netherlands Hotel in New York City. She was attending Smith College when she happened to watch the mainstream film “Sun Valley Serenade.” Enthralled by the film’s depiction and its romantic ambiance she bought a train ticket to Idaho and made reservations at the Sun Valley Lodge for a lengthy stay. Meeting Wayne, a ski instructor at the resort, she learned to ski. By the end of the winter their romance resulted in wedlock. They would raise a family of eight, four of whom would go on to the U.S. Ski Team.
“He told me that we were going to live in Squaw Valley,” recalled Sandy. “Of course, he hadn’t even started buying any property. I had no idea what he was talking about. Nobody had even heard of Squaw Valley.”
True to his word, in 1943 Wayne purchased 640 acres in Squaw Valley from Southern Pacific, and continued to eye his property as a ski operation. In search of investors, the couple met Alex Cushing in 1946 at Alta, Utah. Their ensuing partnership began the Squaw Valley Development Corporation, and in 1948 they broke ground for a ski resort. Sandy and Wayne would also have the good foresight to purchase the rest of the land within Squaw Valley, over 600 acres, and begin a successful career in real estate. They even began their own ski operation, Papoose, adjacent to the Red Dog Chairlift.
Sandy is survived by her eight children: Christian, Wayne Jr., Lance, Eric, Sandra, Craig, Glen and Russell, as well as by 18 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Friends are welcome to join the Poulsen family and celebrate Sandy’s life at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 19th at the Resort at Squaw Creek.
In lieu of flowers the family respectfully requests donations be made in her honor to the Squaw Valley Chapel. Donations may be addressed to the Wayne and Sandy Poulsen Memorial Fund, Squaw Valley Chapel, P.O. Box 7437, Tahoe City, California, 96145.
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