The FoundersBorn in 1915, Paul McCollister graduated from Stanford University with degrees in sociology and economics, (hence Jackson Hole's alignment with the color red). Retiring at the age of 42, after a successful career in radio advertising, he then spent a year skiing the world famous resorts of Europe and as a gentleman rancher on a 390-acre spread in Teton County, Wyo.
With over a century of development work in Wyoming, the Morley family has a rich history around the state. Alex Morley started spending summers in Jackson Hole and skiing Snow King in the 1950's. In 1961 Alex and his family moved from Cheyenne, where he had been a successful general contractor and built a house on Antelope Flats, near the McCollisters.
Alex and Paul quickly become friends and together had the dream of building a ski area. First they looked at Cache Creek, then Static Peak in GTNP (not a crazy idea in the 1960's; both Rainier and Rocky Mountain National Parks had small ski areas.)
Paul was a great promoter. Advertising was his business in California. And Alex was the developer and life-long Wyoming resident. Together they moved mountains (literally!). In 1963 they formed the Jackson Hole Ski Corporation (along with Gordon Graham, a former business associate of Paul's and Dr. King Curtis, both early investment partners in the resort).
It was Alex's political connections in Wyoming (specifically Governor Clifford Hansen and Senators Milward Simpson and Gale McGee) that lead to the federally subsidized EDA loan. Hard as it may be to believe today, in those days Teton County was classified as "economically depressed", thus qualified for federal assistance. As a developer/contractor, Alex built the ski area and the early Village on land which he and Paul bought together from the Crystal Springs girls' dude ranch at the base.
After building the Mountain and running it for a few years together, Paul bought out Alex's half. Bruce Morley (Alex's son) remembers his father joking "It was fun to develop but no fun to run [when few people showed up to ski]." Paul continued to own and operate the resort for over three decades, often having to rely on his traits of sheer persistence and tenacity. Many others may have given up, where Paul only carried on. He sold the resort to the current owners, The Kemmerer Family in 1992.
Alex currently resides in Bend, Oregon, where he continues to view things with a developers' eye, even as he nears the middle of his ninth decade! One of his two sons live in Jackson Hole and Alex remains a frequent visitor to the area.
Paul McCollister died in the spring of 1999 at his home in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
"Paul was a true pioneer," said Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association. " He created Jackson Hole from a dream and the industry recognized his unique accomplishment by honoring Paul with the first NSAA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994."