Earl Holding

Billionaire Robert Earl Holding, owner of Sun Valley Resort in Idaho and Snowbasin in Utah died Friday (April 19) from complications of a 2002 stroke. He was 86. Holding was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2011.


The Utah native’s business empire included the Sinclair Oil Company. Mr. Holding actively oversaw his businesses until he slowed down a few years ago.


“He was a lion of a man,” Sinclair Oil Vice President Clint Ensign told the Associated Press. His net worth at the time of his death was reportedly $3.2 billion, making him the 423rd wealthiest person in the world. He acquired Sinclair Oil in 1976. The company now has 2,700 independently owned stations in 22 states in the West and Midwest.


Holding purchased Sun Valley in 1977, immediately investing in the resort by refurbishing the Sun Valley Lodge and Sun Valley Inn into the modern destination it has become.


“I think we are very lucky Mr. Holding owned Sun Valley, resort VP Jack Sibbach told AP. “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.”


Holding was a member of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee that lured the 2002 Winter Games to Utah. He helped secure the bid by building the upscale Grand America Hotel in SLC and by turning Snowbasin into a venue capable of hosting downhill ski competitions. A footnote came, however, when he was dropped from the organizing committee in the wake of the Olympic bribery scandals. 


Survivors include Carol, his wife of 64 years, and three children.


Photo: Robert Earl Holding (U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame)