Audrey Decker, the matriarch of one of snowmobiling’s most famous families and a three-time Hall Of Fame inductee in her own right, has died. Decker, 86, of Eagle River, Wisconsin, had been bravely battling Parkinson’s Disease.
Many modern snowmobile racing fans and those in the touring community may have known Audrey and her husband, Richard “Dick” Decker, as the folks behind Decker Sno-Venture Tours, for their family’s long ownership of the Eagle River Derby Track from 1985 until 2018, and as the mother to famous racers/riders/snowmobile performance shop owners Steve, Allen, Mike and Chuck Decker, but her involvement in the snowmobile community stretches back much further.
In an interview earlier this year with Snow Goer, Dick Decker recounted how he purchased the family’s first snowmobile right before Christmas in 1964 when one of the sons spotted it outside a local hardware store for sale. Since then, the family’s life centered on snowmobiling.
It started with the boys racing but soon Dick and Audrey were also competing. “At that time when we were all racing back then, we were the biggest team on the circuit,” Dick Decker told us in January. “We had 15 sleds that we would race – we had one semi and we had to add a second one to it.”
Speaking specifically of Audrey’s racing chops, Dick Decker said, “There was Powder Puff racing back then, and then she got out of that and had to race against the men… She won a lot of races and was always very competitive. She’s got more history than all of the boys put together.”
Audrey Decker’s career spanned 13 years, and she was the first woman inducted into the Snowmobile Racing Hall Of Fame in 1989 at the age of 56. In 2001, she and Dick Decker were inducted in the other hall – the grassroots oriented International Snowmobile Hall Of Fame – in the “promoter” category for their efforts to expand snowmobiling to the masses with both the touring business and the Derby Track. And in 2018, she was inducted once more in the racing-oriented hall – now renamed simply Snowmobile Hall of Fame in St. Germain, Wisconsin – as a part of the Team Decker Racing induction that included the whole family. She’s also credited with being a Women On Snow ride co-founder.
Aside from the touring and racing businesses, she and Dick Decker owned a dealership in the powersports industry for 10 years. On the touring business, the duo and other family members led snowmobile excursions all over North America as well as to Iceland and Scandinavia. When Dick and Audrey would team up on a tour, Dick would often “guide” the group via snowmobile while Audrey drove the support vehicle, towing a huge trailer and getting to destinations before the riding group to make arrangements, often with her tiny little dog by her side or on her lap. And, once a person had been on one of the Decker Tours, they were treated like extended family by Dick and Audrey – invited to visit in the summer for a pontoon ride and general hospitality on the Eagle River chain of lakes.
Through it all, Dick and Audrey were pretty much inseparable. A few years back, Dick suffered through some health challenges and Audrey was always there to help him through it; in the last couple of years, Dick has taken on more the role of caregiver. They were married for 65 years.
“I put a little thing in the [local] newspaper saying it’s been a good 65 years and it’s been a hell of a ride,” Dick Decker joked in January. “I got a lot of comments on that and I tell people that that really wasn’t right, that 65 years. And they say, ‘Really, not that many?’ and I say, ‘No, it’s more like 165 years! And, if you ask Audrey she’ll tell you it’s 265 years!’”
Funeral arrangements are pending. Various posts on social media today extolled Audrey Decker’s virtues. (See below).
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