Earl Holding’s fortune began when he was the manager of a Little America truck stop near Green River, Wyoming, where he and his wife Carole pumped gas, washed windows, and did whatever it took to make things run. He was able to purchase the truck stop, then went on to open three more Little Americas, eventually growing enough kitty to buy a Mobile refinery in 1968 and then Sinclair Oil in 1976. One year later, he bought Sun Valley ski area, followed by Snow Basin in Utah. His net worth grew to more than $3.2 billion, and the 400,000 acres he acquired made him the 19th largest land holder in the United States.
Holding passed away Friday at age 86. He suffered a major stroke in 2002, but continued to oversee his businesses.
“I think we are very lucky Mr. Holding owned Sun Valley,” resort spokesman Jack Sibbach said. “One thing he had was a love for the place. He looked at the long term. He improved on it all the way through his ownership.”