Ski sport has lost a great supporter with the passing Friday (July 13) of Whiting Russell “Whitey” Willauer.
Willauer died at Massachusetts General Hospital from pneumonia contracted as he prepared for heart surgery. He was 81. With him were his sons Skip and Will and sister Sally Nash.
Decorated by the US Ski Association for this dedication and work, Willauer was presented the Julius Blegen Award in 1988 for “Outstandings service of the sport of skiing” and in 1998 the Bud and Mary Little Award for long term involvement in the FIS or Olympic sports communities. He also was awarded a Special Recognition Award in 1998.
Whitey served our athletes as a volunteer for nearly 40 years. He was president of the USSA from 1982-87, then serving on the U.S. Olympic Committee board from 1987-94 and was also actively engaged in FIS. At the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid he served as assistant chief alpine steward. He was Chef de Mission at the 1990 Winter Pan American Games in Las Lenas, Argentina, assistant Chef de Mission at the 1992 Albertville Olympic Winter Games and Chef de Mission at the 1994 Paralympic Winter Games in Lillehammer.
A resident and member of the Board of Selectmen for Nantucket he was regarded as a tireless servant and sat on numerous committees and organizations. Throughout the island, as throughout the world of ski racing, he was known simply as “Whitey.”
Ski Racing publisher and owner Gary Black Jr., said Willauer was a major force in his early introduction to the sport. “Whitey Willauer taught me a great deal about ski sport, USSA and the FIS,” said Black. “Brand new to both ski racing and Ski Racing Magazine I was just learning about the politics of the sport and was a real rookie. Whitey took the time to explain how the sport worked and describe the nuances around much of the opinions and personalities. He could be vociferous and stubborn at times, delightful at others. I enjoyed every minute we spent together and wish I could have had more time with Whitey. He contributed a lot to ski sport and certainly helped form some of my editorial comments in Ski Racing. He was a grand fellow.”
USSA President and CEO also paid tribute, saying: :Whitey was an amazing individual who kindly gave his time and knowledge to help our athletes. He provided strong leadership for the USSA, and later the USOC, at a pivotal time in our organization’s history. Our athletes are fortunate to have the support of individuals like Whitey.”
Services have been scheduled for 11 a.m. at St Paul’s Episcopal Church on Friday, July 20 with a reception to follow at the Nantucket Yacht club. The burial will be private.