- Written by Ben Jacklet
- Category: Mountain Characters
- Published: May 02, 2014
- Last Updated: May 06, 2014
The mountain community suffered a great loss on Thursday when skier, philanthropist and Mount Hood legend Fred Noble died on May 1, 2014 after a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
“Fred made it to May 1st for various reasons,” wrote his daughter Julie Bakkala in a letter to friends. “It was his ex-wife's birthday and his grand daughter's birthday, as well as the day he had to reach in order for the VA to pay a portion of his enormous caregiver cost. We have no idea how he knew all of this, as he was in a sleeping state in those last few days, but we can only guess that he wanted to be in control until the end in typical Noble style.”
Born and raised in Portland, Noble traveled the world as a skier and an adventurer, starred in Warren Miller films, and pioneered helicopter skiing in British Columbia, paragliding in the Cascades and windsurfing in the Columbia River Gorge. He dedicated himself to battling ALS since being diagnosed with the incurable disease in 2010, and raised over $480,000 for the cause through Ski to Defeat ALS.
He served as Honorary Chair of the 2014 Ski to Defeat ALS event at Mt. Hood Meadows on April 12, and was honored with the Noble Spirit Award. To see a touching photo essay by Randy Boverman about this year's ALS event and Fred, click here.
Also very much worth reading is Fred's Facebook page, which is brimming with memories, wishes and hilarious stories from the Fredinator's many friends and fellow adventurers. These tales of practical jokes, epic powder days, sit-skiing mishaps and adventurous road trips capture the man's big-hearted zest for life.
"Fred is crushing some pow and hanging it off some cliff in the sky," wrote Fred's friend Tracy Livingston. "Big turns my friend. We will make one last run when ever I see you next."
A documentary about Fred's life and battle with ALS, The Noble Spirit, has drawn high praise in its Hood River and Portland screenings and should be available for viewing at other locations soon. In lieu of flowers or gifts to the family, please donate to the Noble Spirit documentary fund by sending a check to Fred's daughter Julie Bakkala at 3776 Pleasant View Drive Keizer, OR 97303 or using Paypal on the web site itself by clicking here.
In the meantime, the memories and thanks continue to pour in for Fred Noble.
Here's what Lance Christian, executive director of the ALS Association’s Oregon & SW Washington Chapter wrote on the day of Fred’s death:
"Working with Fred to create resources for ALS services and ALS research has been an honor. But, we also learned you had to watch Fred closely. He had that unique skill to forge ahead and do his own thing and then ask permission later. Some might call that trait a “pain in the rear.” We preferred to call it “The Fred Noble experience!” Jump first, ask questions later and know you are doing well for others. You could not help but love Fred for his enthusiasm and his determination.
"Every time we lose a person to ALS, a unique light in the firmament is extinguished. With Fred gone, the sky will have one less brilliant star shining forth. But, we take comfort for having witnessed the beauty of his life. While Fred’s light may be extinguished, our cause is now surrounded by the light of his family and friends who continue his good works. Where Fred’s light shone there are now dozens, hundreds, thousands of light that will continue to light the way until there is a cure for ALS.
"That is a legacy to be proud of. Thank you Fred."
Feel free to leave your Fredinator remembrances in the comments section below.