Wilbur McBay, Founder and Owner of Ski Chalet, Passes Away 4
Author thumbnail By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor

Wilbur McBay, Founder and Owner of Ski Chalet, passed away on September 29, 2004. Photo courtesy of Ski Chalet.
Ski Chalet has been a familiar name in the Washington, D.C. region since 1969, when Wilbur McBay and his family set up shop in Arlington, Virginia. Since then, the line of ski and snowboard shops has grown to five locations, in Virginia and Maryland. The popular chain has remained family-owned, and has become synonymous with Mid-Atlantic winter recreation, sponsoring events such as “demo days” on nearby slopes and the annual “Dilly in Chantilly” fall sale. On September 27, the Mid-Atlantic community lost an important ally and visionary with the passing of Wilbur McBay. He was 69.

“When I opened Ski Chalet back in 1969, I did it because I loved the sport of skiing,” wrote Wilbur on the Ski Chalet web site in recent years. “Over the years, the enjoyment of getting our many special customers ready for the slopes was a natural byproduct of our love of the sport. There is no substitute for enjoyment of one’s work. I have always insisted that our staff be serious skiers with a passion for the sport, but not necessarily experts (although many on the staff are experts). As I look back at Ski Chalet’s success over the years, I am confident that it was the right thing to do and to keep on doing,” Wilbur wrote.

Under Wilbur’s leadership, Ski Chalet has been recognized with many industry awards. Ski Magazine has honored Ski Chalet numerous times with the “Gold Medal Ski Shop” award, and the Snow Sports Industries of America (SIA) trade association has honored Ski Chalet as “Retailer of the Year” on several occasions.

Ski Chalet has been proactive in the Mid-Atlantic ski community. The retail chain offers discounted lift tickets for several area resorts, and sponsors events such as the Jeannie Thoren Women’s Ski Clinic

In addition to overseeing Ski Chalet, Wilbur has been involved in other efforts such as the Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area, where he recently was appointed to the Board of Directors.

Ski Chalet locations will be closed on Monday, October 4, 2004 to honor Wilbur McBay.

Memorial contributions may be made in Wilbur’s name to:

Parkinson’s Foundation of the National Capital Area (PFNCA)
Attn: Kathy Kelly
7913 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22104
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About M. Scott Smith

M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.

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Reader Comments

October 2, 2004
On a personal level, I would like to add that Ski Chalet was an early supporter of DCSki, sponsoring the site in its early days when the site had not yet proven itself. Wilbur rates at the top of any Mid-Atlantic winter sports "who's who" list, and my best wishes go to the McBay family and the staff of Ski Chalet.
Connie Lawn
October 2, 2004
This is very nice, and is a good tribute to a fine man and a great chain of stores. Was he able to enjoy the mountains at all towards the last few years of his life? Yours, Connie
Morgan Birge
October 5, 2004
I wish to send my condolences to the McBay family and all at Ski Chalet and Any Mountain Travel. I knew Wilbur from the very beginning of his business when I worked part time managing the Sears Ski Department and would send customers to Ski Chalet for expert help as circumstances warranted. Mid-Atlantic skiing, indeed, skiing anywhere, benefited from Wilbur's foresight and leadership. He was a wonderful human and we are all a little worse off now than we were at the end of September. May God Bless Wilbur McBay, his immediate family and the larger family within Ski Chalet. AMEN
Brad Hill
November 14, 2005
Having worked for Wilbur for ten years, the last few as the head equipment buyer, I can say Wilbur is not the patran saint of skiing in the Mid-Atlantic. If not for Freed, Ski Chalet would not have made it past '74. Wilbur was all about business and could care less about skiing or the people around him. Let's not make him out to be Franz Klammer. He more often then not kicked people to the curb just because he felt like it. I don't mean too sound like sour grapes, and I did like the man, but he's not the ski guy that the other postings have him made out too be.

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