D. Grady Moretz, Jr., age 88, of Poplar Hill Drive, Boone, passed away Sunday morning, April 8, 2018 at his home. Born June 29, 1929 in Watauga County, he was a son of Dillard Grady Moretz, Sr. and Grace Rhyne Moretz. Grady was a lifelong member of Grace Lutheran Church. After attending UNC Chapel Hill, Mr. Moretz served a four-year tour in the US Navy during the Korean Conflict. He was a co-founder, owner and operator of Appalachian Ski Mtn. A noted civic leader, Mr. Moretz was involved in numerous community and professional organizations. He served on the Watauga County School Board during the successful bond referendum for consolidation of the local high schools into Watauga High School. He was a founding member of the Watauga Education Foundation, and a member of the Watauga County Hospital Board of Trustees before serving 40 years on the Blowing Rock Hospital Board, 20 years as chairman. He was president of the Boone Jaycees, during the building of the Boone Jaycees Park near Horn in the West, was a member of the Boone Tourism Development Authority soon after its inception, and was a founding member of ASU’s Appalachian Summer Festival.
Mr. Moretz was an organizing member and president of both the North Carolina Ski Areas Association and North Carolina High Country Host, and was instrumental in creating the 1981 North Carolina Skier Safety Act legislation. He was president of the Southeastern Ski Areas Association and represented the southeast region on the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) Board of Directors, serving as an officer and a member of numerous committees. In 2005, he was the sole North American recipient of the NSAA Lifetime Achievement Award.
He was a die-hard Tarheel fan and was a proud supporter of ASU.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Reba Smith Moretz; son, Brad Moretz, wife Jennifer, and their children, Jensen and Avery Elizabeth Moretz, and daughter, Brenda Moretz Speckmann, husband, John, and their children, Wiley and Sophie Speckmann, all of Blowing Rock.
Appalachian Ski Mtn. would like to invite any and all comments, stories, remembrances from people who had known Grady during his lifetime. Grady loved to tell stories. Please share your story about him with us. Thank you.
Tribute to Grady Moretz from David Jackson
It snowed Monday morning. On the 9th of April. Even by High Country standards, that’s kind of late. Like many of you, I asked myself why…why won’t winter go away just yet.
Then a few hours later I learned that Grady Moretz passed away Sunday afternoon at his home, with his loving wife Reba by his side. It suddenly made perfect sense that Monday’s flurries were a farewell dusting to us all, from a man who made our enjoyment of these elements his life’s passion.
To say Grady Moretz was a giant in our community is like saying Woody Durham occasionally followed the Tar Heels. In fact, one of his many superlatives could have been, “High Country’s greatest Carolina Basketball Fan.” He would sit up nights in the Snow Club lounge, often with snow guns blasting outside the window, watching his beloved Tar Heels play. By the look on his face, you knew how the Heels had fared. There was nothing like a Grady Moretz smile after a Tar Heel win!
Grady was born in Boone, made his life in Boone, cut his business teeth in Deep Gap, and eventually became one of the pioneers of tourism in our area. He took pride in his role in the family lumber business. The name V.L. Moretz and Son still sits on the outside of the old yard in Deep Gap decades after the business closed its doors. With a good life ahead of him, Grady took a risk in investing in the ski industry, at a time when there was no artificial snow making, barely a lodge to speak of, and no guaranteed customer base to build from in the early years. Boy, did that risk ever pay off!
Five decades later, not only is Appalachian Ski Mountain one of the landmark tourism draws of the region, but it’s family atmosphere is an attractive draw to well over a million visitors since the first skier cut tracks on the hillside between Boone and Blowing Rock. Families learn to ski at Appalachian Ski Mountain. Everything about one’s initial experience on the mountain was designed to create enjoyment. As a young kid I learned to ski on those slopes. I fell a lot that first day, but the food was great, and my ski instructor was friendly and patient. I had a blast and my parents kept bringing me back. So many of us have a similar story.
Grady may also go down in the history books as one of the greatest storytellers in Watauga County history — North Carolina history for that matter. I remember once, at about 10 years old, getting a tour of the old water pump house from Grady in between ski sessions. He knew the make, manufacturer, delivery history, and install date on every bit of equipment from the door handle that led into the room to the last water line that led to the slopes. He told those stories like they were adventures — and they were to him — everything was a story told about he and his staff were able to make something better for their guests. That customer first legacy remains the bedrock of Appalachian Ski Mountain today.
Grady and his wife Reba are two of the most caring people you’d ever have the privilege to know. They cared so deeply for everyone that worked for them. They cared for the families that saw generations grow up on their slopes. They cared for their community by supporting the arts, non-profits, and anyone that might benefit from a little wisdom and experience gained by the Moretz family along the way.
Grady never talked about anything that he wasn’t committed to do. When a new project at the ski mountain panned out, a subtle wink and a “what do you think about that,” would often follow.
He was also incredibly loyal and would stand behind those that he pledged support to forever. After App State’s first National Championship, not long after a very difficult period for the program and its Head Coach, Jerry Moore, Grady was moved to tears at a breakfast to honor the coaching staff, because he was so happy that his friend had finished the job the way he knew he could all along. If Grady pledged his support to you…well you could just take that to the bank.
Grady was a tremendous businessman, he supported so many people and causes, and he cared so much for his community. But I’ll always remember Grady the family man. A man whose mouth would drop open and eyes light up anytime one of his grandchildren walked into a room. A man who made time for family dinner at the ski lodge, as many of them around the table as he could get, silencing radios phone calls for a few minutes just to have a meal like we are used to having at our homes. His wry smile was the same when he told a good joke, or perhaps just took one in. He could shoot you a look that said, “shape up,” just as easily as he could gaze a look of empathy at an old friend.
Grady Moretz was Boone..he embodied everything it meant to be a native of this great place. Treat people with respect, turn trust into loyalty, lend a helping hand, and love them like they’re yours. So many of us have benefited from this kind man and his amazing family over the years. We’ll miss him forever, but every time that first snowflake of the season falls or that first subzero morning comes, there will be a smile as bright as ever, way up above, that belongs to Grady Moretz as he watches over his life’s work and all of the people he graced over the years.