Pictured above are Joe Minder’s wife, Hazel, and their sons, Jack and Bob, holding Joe’s plaque.
On Saturday, July 6 a ceremony was held to recognize and honor the late Joseph G. Minder, and the North Creek Ski Bowl Lodge was renamed the Joe Minder Ski Bowl Lodge.
Minder was an avid skier from age 7 until he decided to stop skiing at age 81. He was an active member of the community throughout his life.
A World War II veteran, Minder was a Japanese POW for three and a half years. Ron Parson’s father served with Minder in the Philippines and was also a Japanese POW. He spoke of the terrible conditions and that prisoners had to deal with, explaining that Minder had been a slave laborer in a copper mine while at the Hanaoka Sendai Camp No. 7. While there he was forced to carry 70-pound bags of iron ore 16 hours a day, six days a week. Prisoners only received a hand full of rice twice each day.
“After six months prisoners began to realize that it was going to be a long war and that many of them would not survive,” Parsons said.
In order to cope with this harsh reality, prisoners created their own alternate reality, they dreamed of their lives back home in America.
“Joe’s dream was about skiing here on Little Gore where the air was cool and the snow was pure white, a place where his friends, neighbors, and relatives never aged or died. A place where he always had enough to eat,” Parsons said. “Joe’s spirit will always reside here, where the snow is pure white, the place where his dream came true.”
When he returned to North Creek in 1946, Minder also returned to the skiing he loved so much and which played an important role in helping him recover from his war experiences. Within a couple of years, he met and married Hazel Allen and they had two sons, Bob and Jack. He worked in the office of Barton Mines and at Gore Mountain.
“Over the years, Joe taught many youths not just skiing but the sheer pleasure of a snowy hill and a brisk walk surrounded by hardwood trees,” said Terry Waterston, Commander of the American Legion Post 629 and host of the ceremony.
Waterston also spoke about his dedication to the community.
“If you needed help getting anything done, Joe’s hand would always go up,” Waterston said. “If you needed help paring potatoes for White Water Weekend, he’d be right there in the kitchen.”
Johnsburg resident Bob Nessle offered kind words about Minder.
“Joe’s life really interacts with skiing in this area and that’s what this building is all about,” Nessle said. “I’m really pleased and happy as a clam to have worked with Terry, Town Supervisor Ron Vanselow, and the American Legion people to bring this memorial to Joe to fruition.”
Minder’s son, Bob Minder, expressed his gratitude to the community on behalf of his family. He also shared some of his personal recollections of his father.
“I remember coming down the big mountain on the old ridge trail 90 percent of the way on my butt while also hearing my dad’s gentle encouragement all the way,” Bob Minder said. “I also remember my dad flipping chickens here at many 4th of July celebrations. It was one of his very favorite holidays. He had a sincere appreciation for what the day truly stood for and I guarantee you he would have been so honored and proud to be recognized in conjunction with this day.”