It would be tempting to call a man who has spent half his life in the ski patrol Mr. Winter. But this one just goes by Jack.
Jack Winter, of Boalsburg, spent 40 years on the slopes with the Tussey Mountain Ski Patrol and recently was honored with the National Ski Patrol’s Distinguished Service Award for his “exceptional service to duty and outstanding service.”
Winter’s daughter, Jennifer Case, of Mechanicsburg, said her father was very humbled by the award because the work was never something for which he sought recognition.
“Serving was something that needed to be done,” she said. And it was something her father enjoyed.
Ski patrollers are volunteers who are trained in CPR, first aid and, of course, skiing. They’re on the mountain to teach and to keep skiers safe, not to police.
One of the qualities a ski patroller must have is the ability to interact with people; no cold fish need apply.
And despite having had two strokes in the past few years, Winter’s interacting-with-people skills are very much intact, Case said.
He doesn’t initiate conversations the way he once did, but once he gets to talking with old friends, “he’s right back where he used to be.”
He’s a “social butterfly,” Case said, which was one reason for his success. That and a love of skiing and the outdoors.
Winter was a trainer and mentor for the ski patrol from 1970 to 2010, and trained his two children, who later worked alongside their father as ski patrollers themselves.
“It was a family thing,” Case said. “It was part of our family. We always looked forward to ski season.”
Winter said he certainly did spend a lot of time at Tussey.
“But I never felt it interfered with my life. I took the kids along,” he said, giving their mother a break when they were young.
Case even met her husband, Dave, while skiing at Tussey in 1980. They got better acquainted riding the lift together, she said.
The Distinguished Service Award is given to those who have performed “extraordinary service” to the National Ski Patrol for 20 years or more.
Winter’s service extended well beyond that and beyond Tussey. He was instrumental in starting three ski patrols at other resorts, and he served regionally.
He said he was “certainly excited” about the recognition and that it was a “complete surprise.”
It was no surprise, however, to those who knew him and worked with him through the years, Case said.
Patrollers Doug Reddy and Ted Hovermale worked hard to see that Winter was recognized, she said.
“It was a lot of work, and Dad really appreciated it. It really touched him a lot.”