“I Remember When...” Maryanne Hill Had Passion for ‘Ski Town’
By Ty Walker
The late Maryanne Hill loved Government Camp. The woman locals affectionately called the “Mayor Of Government Camp” spent a lifetime dedicated to service to the small community in the foothills of Mount Hood.
Lesli Bekins, daughter of one of the more illustrious women in “Ski Town” history, looked back on memories of her mother and shared them recently with the Mountain Times for its “I Remember When” feature. Her mother, who died Feb. 19, 2021, at 99, has left a lasting legacy.
Maryanne literally helped build this town. She wielded an ax, cutting down timber used for beams in the construction of her family cabin. That’s not just local folklore.
She was a strong voice for organized development of Government Camp and co-founder of the Mount Hood Museum and Cultural Center. She inherited ownership and ran the Government Camp Water Company for years.
Maryanne Hill was an outstanding athlete and physical education teacher. A champion ski racer, she was a member of the Cascade Ski Club and founded the Government Camp Ski Club.
She competed in the 1947 Olympic trials in Sun Valley, Utah, just two weeks out of a cast for a broken tibia and fibula. While her injury may have prevented her from making the 1948 Olympic team, she won numerous trophies on the slopes over the years. She also enjoyed ballet dancing.
“She was very involved,” Lesli said of her mother. “She loved Government Camp. She was on the citizens advisory committee for land-use planning in the 1970s. She wanted to see development come to Government Camp, but organized development, not spotty.”
Lesli is the third generation of the Hill family to own and operate the Government Camp Water Company, which is the exclusive water supplier to the community. Founded in 1941 by her grandfather, the water company was inherited by Lesli’s mother.
Maryanne had a very hands-on work ethic, which she instilled in others. She was known to go on calls to water leak repair sites to make sure crews did the job right.
Lesli said her mother was strict and not afraid of hard work. “I called her the drill sergeant,” she said.
Charles Hill moved his family from Forest Grove to the fresh air of Government Camp in the 1930s to get a new start, following the 1929 stock market crash and to help with his bad allergies. Maryanne, who was 10 at the time, would live most of her life in the quaint little town that skiing built.
For years, Charlie owned Hill’s Place, a favorite stop for skiers on the mountain. Unfortunately, fire destroyed the restaurant, along with most of Maryanne’s skiing trophies, in 1969.
“She served as president of Clackamas County Associated Chambers for the benefit of giving a voice to Government Camp,” Lesli said. “She was on the board of the Tax Increment Financing District in Government Camp that brought tax dollars to Government Camp, which gave us walkways and beautiful street lighting in the core area and led to development and expansion of infrastructure.”
Maryanne continued skiing until well into her 70s, when she suffered a minor stroke that threw off her balance. She then used ski poles to keep her balance and navigate around her cabin.
“She always said, ‘Skiing built this town, which it did,’” Lesli said.
Besides being in charge of the Government Camp Water Co., Lesli is a real estate agent who owns several rental properties in the Mount Hood area and specializes in Government Camp. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she sits on the board of the Mount Hood Museum And Cultural Center.