To know him was to have a friend

Quick takeoffs

Bill Mahre was unique in many ways

I’m not sure how many years ago it was that I met Bill Mahre. The well-known Maplewood resident wore his credentials inconspicuously. That, however, did not mean he wasn’t a man of many talents.

Heck, Bill Mahre lived Maplewood every one of the 80 years he spent on this earth. He attended the old Gladstone Elementary School and was a graduate of North High. He lived near the lake when it was still called Gladstone Lake.

I probably first met Mahre over on Ripley Street where he was filling a propane tank with gas. He spent a career in the propane gas business and was still testifying as an expert witness in court cases throughout the United States when he finally called it quits on Jan. 18.

But I came to know Bill Mahre when he became a part of the St. Paul Ski Club (SPSC). I use the words “became a part” on purpose. Mahre didn’t just become a member of something. Once he decided he would join, he was much more than just there to cast a vote.

He was never more than a mediocre ski jumper, but he became much more than most SPSC members have ever become. He seldom missed a meeting and soon became a member of the SPSC Board of Directors and served in that capacity to the end.

When it became fashionable, Mahre, along with John R. Lyons, organized and ran the gambling enterprises which aided the SPSC in becoming close to financially independent.

He and Lyons were the very first inductees into the SPSC Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is named “The John Lyons and Bill Mahre Hall of Fame” after the pair.

Mahre later became an integral part of the Central Division Ski Jumping Committee. He served as the secretary for many years. He also was a member of the National Ski Jumping Committee and added his expertise to that committee. That led to his working at the 1980 Olympic Games that were held at Lake Placid, New York.

His involvement in the national aspects of ski jumping led to his being selected as a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee where he became a strident voice for ski jumpers.

Through the years, Mahre never wavered in his support or failed to offer his expertise in a variety of areas where he could be of value to the SPSC, or to ski jumping as a whole.

In more recent times and until his death, Mahre was a valued member of the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame Selection Committee which is headquartered in Red Wing, Minnesota.

That Mahre’s presence will be missed could not be more than a gigantic understatement. But of all the things he did and all the areas where he had such a huge impact on one’s life, there will no greater void than that of his greeting from a kind and understanding friend and neighbor. Most important, of all the numerous talents displayed by Mahre, was the welcoming smile he displayed as a friend.

Quick takeoffs

Hey RUTH, you hang in there!

Wally Wakefield can be reached at or 651-748-7826.


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