Long-time Mammoth resident, planning commissioner, real estate agent and Olympic gold medalist, Roy Saari, has died. His family said he had spent a perfect day with them and died suddenly the evening of December 30th. Saari was 63.
It was in 1964 that Saari won gold and silver medals in swimming competition for the United States during the Tokyo Olympics. His Olympic accomplishments made him a perfect match for Mammoth Lakes where he worked hard in the real estate world and in local government.
Most recently, he filled the role of planning commissioner for the Town of Mammoth Lakes. His common sense, straightforward style won the hearts of many constituents. He was described by some as the “voice of reason” and “as a kind human being.” For Saari, family and community came first along with honorable relations with his fellow officials and citizens.
According to the internet, Saari was born February 25, 1945, in Buffalo, New York. He was the son of a swimming and water polo coach, Urho “Whitey” Saari. He grew up in El segundo, California, and starred in both sports as a high school student. At the University of Southern California, he won nine NCAA individual championships, a record at the time. The Los Angeles Times honored Roy Saari on their obituary pages Saturday, January 3rd. See www.latimes.com .
The first swimmer to break the 17-minute barrier in the 1,500 m, Saari won gold medals in the 400 m and 1,500 m freestyle races at the 1963 Pan American Games. He won a silver medal in the 400 m individual medley and was a member of the gold medal 4×200 m freestyle relay team at the 1964 Summer Olympics. Saari won a total number of 33 Nationals between 1959 and 1969. He was inducted in the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1976.
In Mammoth Lakes, Roy is survived by wife Sheryl and daughter Joani Lynch and her family, along with son Jeff Saari, his wife and two children, who live in Huntington Beach. A Celebration of Roy Saari’s Life will take place Sunday, January 11 at 11am in the Mountainside Conference Center at Main Lodge at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. All are welcome.