For hundreds of athletes over the years, “Grandpa Jack” Reading was a constant — an always smiling face and a calming presence — at the top of the hill.

The Holiday Valley Race Team Parents Association (HVRTPA) recently established the Jack Reading Memorial Fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation to ensure that ski racing opportunities for years to come remember the influence of Jack Reading and his love for the sport at Holiday Valley.

Alpine ski racing is a commitment for athletes and their families. Often, the competition fees, travel, equipment, etc. can accumulate to thousands of dollars in one season. The Holiday Valley Race Team has proudly grown racers who have competed successfully and regional national levels.

This fund will provide scholarship stipends for need-based recipients of the Holiday Valley Race Team to assist with various racing costs as well as growth opportunities for athletes and the Holiday Valley Race Team. Jack and Lynne Reading have been a fundamental part of Holiday Valley for decades. Jack started skiing in Ellicottville in the late 1950s and the couple joined the Ellicottville Ski Club in 1967. This fund will continue to honor Jack’s love for alpine ski racing for years to come.   

“Jack was a Training Center favorite. He always had a positive attitude and came to work with a big, heartfelt smile,” said Miguel Azcarate, Holiday Valley Training Center Director. “He genuinely cared about all the athletes…like they were his own. As our official race starter, his attitude was infectious…not only to the athletes, but his co-workers as well. He was my friend, co-worker and father-in-law. ”

Before he was “Grandpa Jack,” Rollin J Reading Jr. was a military veteran who served in the U.S. Army in Schweinfurt and Durchim in Germany. After his military service, Reading returned to Jamestown and worked in the family-owned business, Quality Markets, Inc. with his grandfather, father and brother. Jack retired as president in 1992.

After retirement, Jack spent time working at Holiday Valley. For several years, he groomed the slopes and later worked as chair lift attendant. He later served as the head starter for the Holiday Valley racing program, where he officially became known as “Grandpa Jack.”

“As excitement peaked before racers started their run, ‘Grandpa Jack’s’ consistent smile and simple words, ‘racer ready – 3, 2, 1, go,’ boosted the confidence of hundreds of racers, throughout,” said Melissa DeRose, Vice President of the HVRTPA. “On the coldest day at the top of the hill, ‘Grandpa’ Jack was there; he calmed a lot of nerves and facilitated a lot of smiles. He will be deeply missed.”

Reading believed in the value of the ski racing program, which extends far beyond wins and losses or personal records. “The benefits of joining our team are profound. Athletes gain confidence, technical skills, foster life-long friendships and continue to have fun,” DeRose added. “As our athletes grow through our program, the friendships within our families grow, too. These gains are immeasurable.”

The legacy of Jack Reading extends even far beyond the ski slopes, though.

He also was a fixture at Chautauqua Golf Club and the Woodcrest golf course where he mowed fairways. He was an active community servant, serving on the W.C.A. Hospital Foundation board. He was also a member of the Chautauqua Lake Yacht Club, where he was a past vice-commodore, and the Ellicottville Ski Club board of directors, where he was a past president.

“Our family is pleased to set up this fund at Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation in honor of my husband, Jack,” Lynne Reading added. “It will be an ongoing fund to help support those racers in need of some financial help and promote the sport of skiing to all skiers.”

Donations can be made to the Jack Reading Memorial Fund at 301 North Union St., Suite 203, Olean, or online at cattfoundation.org.