Tod E. McClaskey, 91; Red Lion Hotel Chain's Co-Founder

From Staff and Wire Reports

Tod E. McClaskey, 91, co-founder of the Red Lion hotel chain in the western United States, died in his sleep Saturday at his winter home in Rancho Mirage, said Alison Irwin, his secretary of 14 years.

McClaskey was born in Unionville, Mo., but grew up mostly in Arlington, Ore. At his first business, the old Frontier Room in Vancouver, Wash., he met Ed Pietz, and in 1959 they bought the 89-room Thunderbird Motor Inn in neighboring Portland, Ore., the first of what they initially called the Thunderbird-Red Lion Inns.

The combination of McClaskey's business skills and Pietz's expertise in construction grew the company to 52 properties with 11,000 workers in eight states, the largest privately held hotel chain west of the Mississippi River by the time it was sold in 1984 to Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co. of New York for a reported $600 million.

At the time of his death, McClaskey owned the Wyoming Inn in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Creekside Inn in Bishop, Calif., a number of lodgings in Nevada and Casino Express Airline, a charter carrier.

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