North Creek 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.