In Memoriam – Harlan “Sonny” Davis

We are heartbroken to announce the death of Harlan “Sonny” Davis, age 71 of Portland, Maine on Thursday, December 7, 2023. Sonny had a 45-year tenure at Pleasant Mountain and served 17 years as Ski Patrol Director. He served with the Navy Seals for six years before moving to Bridgton. After retiring from the mountain, he worked for McIver Electric where they were exceptionally supportive of him.

Sonny is predeceased by his daughter, Lindsay Davis. Sonny is survived by his partner MaryAnn Butts, son Scott and wife Stephanie, son Ryan and Stephanie Ross, as well as his grandchildren Taylor, Paige, Logan, Spencer, and Samantha.

Following is the eulogy Darryl Trafford delivered at Sonny’s service.

My name is Darryl Trafford, I have been a lifelong patroller and friend of Sonny. Our patrol was founded by Jimmy Jones, in Portland, Maine in 1936, as the “Forest City Ski Patrol.” At that time, it was the first ski patrol in Maine. In 1938, the patrol was moved to Pleasant Mountain and renamed the Pleasant Mountain Ski Patrol. Jimmy was confirmed as the patrol leader, a position he held through 1972. In 1972, Jimmy retired and Rolly Seavey was brought in as the new PD. Rolly had previously served as the patrol leader at Burnt Meadow Mountain in Brownfield. Rolly reached out and invited many members of that now-defunct patrol to join him.

In 1973 my mother and my older brother Danny joined the patrol. That same winter, my older sister Donna, and I were recruited for a new Junior Patroller program. Rolly had asked one of his new patrollers to start that program. That new guy was Sonny Davis. Two of his buddies that he had served with in Vietnam had just been discharged through Brunswick Naval Air station and were hired by Rolly. Sonny and I quickly hit it off, and since then, our friendship continued. At one point or another, Sonny had a hand in training or working with eight of us Traffords. If you include my mom, and my sons Jordan and Cam, my family has 128 years of service to the Pleasant Mountain Ski Patrol. That wouldn’t have happened without Sonny. All of us Traffords considered Sonny to be part of our family.

Sonny grew up as a military brat. While his father was stationed in Colorado, Sonny learned to ski at Arapahoe Basin. He talked a lot about skiing the snowfields, dropping off the west side cornice, and taking runs on Pallavicini, which was touted as the longest, steepest, widest, lift-served trail in the country. Many of you will remember seeing the trail map of A Basin hanging on the wall in the outer patrol room.

After we earned our senior rockers together in 1983, I treated myself to a trip to Colorado, to ski Arapahoe Basin, and took a few runs on Pallavicini. Yes, it was as badass as Sonny had claimed. The sign at the top of Pallavicini said “SKI IT IF YOU DARE.”

In the mid-80s, Pleasant Mountain freestyle legend Gregg Stump bought his first movie camera. He stopped in at the patrol shack and asked Sonny and me to take some runs with him on the east headwall. He wanted to practice tracking skiers with that new camera. When he later released his first ski movie, Sonny and I attended the premier at the Brunswick in OOB.

A question for some here. Does Danny or David Gyger, H3, Michael or Tom Bull, or any others that grew up hanging out at the patrol shack, recall getting hung up by your ski pants on the coat hook or having the top lift attendant stop the old blue chair so we could pelt you with snowballs? We worked hard at the mountain, but we always had time for fun.

In 1983, following a winter of training and clinicing, Sonny and I both earned our senior alpine designation from NSP thanks to a lot of nudging and support from Henry Hudson, and Tom and June Gyger.

In 1987, when I got married for the first time, Sonny stood up with me as my best man. He gave me a simple bit of advice ahead of the ceremony. Run! I should have listened to him.

The Pleasant Mountain Ski Patrol has always had a very strong presence on the Maine Region staff. As a result, we have ended up staffing and hosting many region and division events. Those have included Student Patrol clinics, OEC and Ski & Toboggan clinics, and OEC Senior Evaluations to name a few. Sonny was always in the middle of those events helping and cheering on our participating patrollers when he could.

Throughout the 80s and 90s we had an aggressive training program for both adults and students. We trained as many as 40 new patrollers in a year. At one point we counted 24 senior patrollers that were regularly working with candidates. That training incorporated a lot of Sonny’s concepts of keeping it fun and pushing ourselves. Who hasn’t seen us side slipping the crud line along the trail doing one-footed sideslips or even kick turns in the ice balls left by the groomer.

Through all of this, our student program kept going strong. Between 2004 and 2017, three of our students took first place overall at the Eastern Division Student Patrol event: Courtney, Matt, and Jordan. Many more achieved second and third place finishes. Emily and Morgan both won the prestigious Hans Hyson trophy for leadership. Sonny worked and celebrated with all of them. During all this fun, Sonny made time to coach the Lake Region Ski Team to a bunch of individual and team state championships.

In 2016, Sonny and I received our 40-year service awards from NSP together. In 2017, Sonny and I received the Distinguished Service Award from NSP together. In 2026 we would have been up for our 50-year service awards.

In Memoriam – Morton M. Pear

Morton M. Pear
July 9, 1935–September 18, 2023

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of a patroller who was a friend and supporter of most of us in the CT Region. Morton (Morty) Pear, NSP 134683 passed September 18, 2023. He was a longstanding member of the Powder Ridge Patrol (joined in 1987) and skied until just two years ago. He will be greatly missed.

Morton “Morty” Pear, 88, was born in Middletown, CT, in 1935 and passed on September 18, 2023, surrounded by love. The world has lost a true treasure. A father, husband, partner, uncle, cousin, brother-in-law, friend, veteran, community service member, and all-around special man. A man committed to serving others.

He is survived by his son Michael R. Pear (Sheri), daughter Amy C. Pear (June), and significant other, Kathleen McPherson. He is also survived by his three sisters-in-law, Eleanor Zarch, Noreen Zupnik, and Elizabeth “Betty” Pear, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Besides his parents, Morty is predeceased by his wife, Sheila L. Pear, and brother Joel Pear.
He graduated from Middletown High School, then he enlisted in the United States Air Force. After completing flight instrument tech school, he was assigned to a Flight Recon Squadron at Shaw AFB, where he was responsible for the instrumentation, hydraulics, and pneumatics on 21 airplanes, RF84Fs and T33As. He was discharged in 1956, at the death of his father, to run the family business, Pear’s Kosher Market.
Morty was a member of the Adath Israel Synagogue. He was active in coaching softball, basketball, football, and volleyball for the United Synagogue League and in the community. An active Elks (Lodge 771) member for approximately 40 years, he received the Citizen of the Year Award in 2013/2014, the Outstanding Service Award in 2020 for the Veterans Kayaking Program, and an award for vision and dedication to the Elks Veterans Kayaking Program in 2023.

Morty began ski patrolling in 1987, actively patrolling at Haystack Mountain, Powder Ridge, and Lakeridge Ski Area, receiving the Eastern Division Patroller Achievement Award in 2014 and Patroller of the Year at Powder Ridge.
Morty was a medical volunteer with Special Olympics for about 30 years, which he felt filled his heart. He also volunteered with the City of Middletown Office of Emergency Management, Middletown Medical Reserve, and the Community Emergency Response Team and was a member of the American Legion in Middletown.

Morty was one of the founding and charter members of the Jewish War Veterans, Middletown, Post 51, holding the offices of Senior Vice Commander and Commander. An active member of the Middletown D.A.V. working on multiple veteran programs, including bridging the Elks with the veterans to work on the Elks Disabled Veterans Kayaking Programs. Morty was inducted into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame in 2019. He received the William Pomfret Veteran of the Year Award from the Middletown Chamber of Commerce in 2018. The biggest honor for him was receiving The Legion of Honor Humanitarian Award from The Chapel of the Four Chaplains in 2014.
In his spare time, he played softball in Middletown, coached women’s softball in Middletown and Cromwell, and enjoyed his role as Santa Claus in the community.

Services were at Congregation Adath Israel Synagogue, Middletown CT. A burial at Adath Israel Cemetery with full military honors. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Special Olympics, Middletown D.A.V. Chapter 7, or Congregation Adath Israel Synagogue.

Skip Mudge

CT Region Director

In Memoriam – Joseph A. Rao

Joseph A. Rao
August 19, 1929—April 18, 2023

Joseph A. Rao, 93, of Southington, formerly of Newington, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family on Tuesday, April 18, joining his beloved wife, Santina (Sandy) Morelli. He was a longtime member of the Church of the Holy Spirit, Newington, and more recently of St. Dominic Church in Southington. Born in Lowell, MA, on August 19, 1929, to the late Anthony and Lydia (Caruolo) Rao.

Joe spent his early childhood in Providence, RI, before the family moved to New Britain. There, his father opened a women’s clothing store, Anthony Rao’s, which became an iconic downtown retailer. He graduated from New Britain High School and went on to serve in the U.S. Army, 28th Infantry Division, in Germany during the Korean War. Joe attended the University of Connecticut and then earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Business from Niagara University. He joined his father in business at Anthony Rao’s and was active in the New Britain Downtown District redevelopment and Chamber of Commerce.

He was a long-time member of Newington UNICO. It was at Anthony Rao’s that he met Sandy, the love of his life. Joe and Sandy raised their five children in Newington before moving in retirement to Southington. Joe was a member of the National Ski Patrol and was honored as Patroller of the Year while serving at Mount Southington for over a decade; he skied well into his 80s.

He grew up on ice-skates, taking his children often to Mill Pond. He taught all his grandchildren to ski, to skate, to fish, and to draw. Joe enjoyed fishing with his brother-in-law, Fuzzy Failla, and loved to share the fresh-caught bluefish or bass. From fish dinners, homemade pizza, clams, and fresh antipasto at Christmas, Joe lived his passion for food after learning to cook from his mother. He was in his element working at his son Christian’s restaurants in Wallingford and could often be found sampling the day’s specials. Joe’s greatest joy was spending time and giving attention to family and friends.

He leaves his five children, Laura Taricani and Michael of Southington, Maria Rao of Stratford, Anton Rao and Christina (Larson) of Cheshire, Christian Rao of Wallingford, and Daria Mondo and Scott of Southington; cousin Johnny, and Ginny Rao of Kensington; grandchildren and their spouses, Darren and Susan, Adria and Stephen, Brandon and Robyn, Samantha and Dan, Brynna, Michaela, Anthony, and Gabriella; and six great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his brother, Buddy Rao.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held at the Church of the Holy Spirit (Annunciation Parish), 183 Church Street, Newington. He was laid to rest with military honors in St. Mary Cemetery, New Britain. In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation may be made to the Franciscan Home Care & Hospice Care at www.franciscanhc.org.

In Memoriam – James “Jim” Chagnon

James “Jim” Chagnon
November 8, 1950—August  21, 2023

It is with sadness that I inform you of the passing of one of our former patrollers James “Jim” Chagnon of Southington, CT, who passed away on August 21, 2023, at his home. He patrolled at Mt. Southington in CT between 1970-1986, became a Senior Alpine Patroller in 1972, and served as a hill captain for the patrol.

Jim was employed by Medtronic as a well-respected software engineer for many years until his retirement. .Jim was an avid golfer and skier, and a diehard Red Sox fan, but his true joy was spending time with his children and grandchildren. He was a fixture at grandkids’ sporting events, school ceremonies, and parties. Jim was a selfless person who would treat anyone he met as if they were family. To say that he will be missed is an understatement.

Born November 8, 1950, in Meriden, he was the son of Margaret (Gutman) Murphy of Winter Haven, FL, and the late James R. Chagnon. He is survived by his children, Gregory Chagnon and wife Jill of Danvers, MA, and Marci Quinn of Manhasset, NY; five grandchildren, Connor, Evan, Bryce, Aidan, and Grace; and his sister, Sandra Burr of Nashville, TN. He was predeceased by his brother Charles Chagnon.

Services for Jim were held privately with his family. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Jimmy Fund or the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.

In Memoriam – Henry Brisman

Henry Brisman
March 18, 1928–January 29, 2023

Six patrollers wearing their red patrol parkas, serving as pallbearers, escorted Henry Brisman to his final duty station on a damp, cloudy April day. They quietly joked that the gravesite at the top of a hill in the cemetery would make a great spot to ski when snow returns next season; an ideal location from which a skier could survey the countryside below. Henry would certainly appreciate the site. As the funeral ended, the sun broke through the clouds. Apparently, Henry was pleased! Henry Brisman was just short of 95 when he passed away after an extended illness in January.

He is remembered as the kind of person patrols appreciate. For 50 years, he was there for the NSP, and for 19 of those years, he was on active duty at Toggenburg in the Central New York Region. He started his patrol career in 1970 at Sterling Forest in the Southern New York Region.

Henry served faithfully and could always be counted upon. Even after giving up his skis at age 86 and becoming an Alumni, he helped at Toggenburg with fundraising and at various patrol events. He received his 50-year pin and NSP Lifetime Membership in 2019 and was awarded the Eastern Division Patroller Achievement Award in 2013.

He came to Central New York in the mid-1990s when he and his late wife, Anne, opened a women’s clothing store in Cortland, NY. Henry started his career running his family’s chain of women’s clothing stores in downstate New York and later traveled New York and New England as a clothing salesman. In addition to skiing, Henry was an accomplished pool player and enjoyed playing golf.

He is survived by five children, three stepchildren from Anne’s family, and his friend and companion for the past 10 years, Debra Hubbard, and her two children. He is also survived by six grandchildren, five stepgrandchildren, and three stepgreat-grandchildren.

Jeff Paston
CNY Historian

In Memoriam – Kenneth Post Jr.

Kenneth Post Jr.
October 18, 1933—May 14, 2023

Kenneth Edwin Post Jr, 89, of Danbury, husband of Eileen (Galligan) Post, died on Sunday, May 14, 2023, at his residence. Born on October 18, 1933, the son of the late Kenneth Edwin Post Sr and Ethel Post, he was a lifelong resident of Danbury. He graduated from Danbury High School in 1952 and later earned an associate degree from Western Connecticut State University. He was a dedicated telephone company employee and retired from SNET.

A proud Marine and veteran of the Korean War, he was an active member of the Korean War Veteran’s Association in Danbury. He led the effort to build the Korean War monument at the War Memorial, participated in parade activities, was active in their annual Rose of Sharon fundraiser, and held many leadership positions in the organization. He attended countless veteran funerals with his trusty bugle to play taps.

He was a member of the National Ski Patrol for more than 50 years and was awarded his National Appointment number for long-standing service. As an EMT, he worked in the first aid building at the Danbury Fair each year. He was a certified CPR instructor and taught CPR for the American Heart Association.

Ken is survived by his wife Eileen, daughter Lauren Seidl and husband John of Marietta, GA, son-in-law Steve Johnston of New Fairfield, CT, grandchildren James Seidl, Steven Johnston, and Mia Johnston, great-grandchild William Seidl, brother Roger Post and his wife Lucy of Danbury, CT and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his daughter Penny Post Johnston and his sister Janet Vojt.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the National Ski Patrol or the American Heart Association.

 

In Memoriam – Thomas H. Gillespie, Jr.

Thomas H Gillespie, Jr.
August 21, 1933-April 25, 2023

Thomas Howard Gillespie, Jr., a 55-year resident of New Canaan, CT, died on April 25, 2023. He was born in Chicago, IL on August 21, 1933, a son of Thomas Howard and Florence Stoker Gillespie, and raised in Kenilworth, IL. As a youth attending Joseph Sears School and New Trier Township High School, Tom was active in sports and achieved his Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts at the early age of 13. Tom graduated from Cornell University, Class of 1955. He was an active member of the Sigma Phi fraternity in college and for more than 60 years thereafter. Drafted into the Army following college, Tom served primarily in the Signal Corps in the Philippines.

Following his service, Tom attended the Northwestern Graduate School of Business (now Kellogg), receiving his MBA in 1960. That same year he moved to San Francisco to begin a career in investment management. He met his beloved wife of 43 years, Josephine, during his first week in San Francisco. Jo and Tom were married soon after and moved east in 1965. After achieving CFA certification in 1966, Tom co-founded the predecessor to Gillespie, Robinson & Grimm, an investment firm that he led for 49 years before his retirement in 2020 at age 87.

Tom moved to New Canaan in 1968 and lived in the same house for the remainder of his life. Tom was a generous supporter of national and local causes and served on the boards of the United Way, Woodway Country Club (of which he was a member for 50 years), The New Canaan Inn, and the Congregational Church of New Canaan.

Tom always believed he led a blessed life. He could find someone he knew from his past almost anywhere in the world. He was always active, including skiing on the National Ski Patrol, shooting river rapids in a canoe, and playing golf all over the world. An avid traveler, Tom covered most of the globe and won the family’s 50-State Challenge. While later in life he could be found enjoying a good book of historical fiction and sipping his favorite “Scottish wine” (aka Scotch), he continued to travel the world into his late 80s. Tom was a kind and generous man, with a keen sense of right and wrong. He had time and a story for people from all walks of life, but his family was his focus, with his eight grandchildren the collective apple of his eye.

Tom is predeceased by his wife Josephine Bunch Gillespie, his parents Thomas and Florence Gillespie, and his brother Robert Alexander Gillespie. Tom is survived by his three children and eight grandchildren, including his son Thomas (wife Mary, children Shea, Josie, Trip) of Great Falls, VA, his son Douglas (wife Serena, children Alexandra, Douglas) of New Canaan, CT, and his daughter Allison (children Ryan, Lindsay, Graham) of Atlanta, GA.

A service was held on Sunday, May 21 at the Congregational Church of New Canaan, with a reception immediately following at Woodway Country Club. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Congregational Church of New Canaan.

In Memoriam – James J. McKay

James J. McKay
December 14, 1940—May 5, 2023

Jim McKay was a caring and attentive husband, a supportive and proud father, and a loyal friend to many. He was hard-working, generous, quick with a joke, and always ready with a story. Jim was a great man who will be sorely missed by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him.
James J. McKay, 82, of West Chester, PA died on Friday, May 5. He was born in Darby, PA, and grew up in Collingdale, with his older sister Mickey. In 1959 he graduated from Collingdale High School and while in school he played baseball, basketball, and football. Jim joined the Naval Reserve as a junior in high school and went into the Navy after graduation. He served three years as an aircraft electrician while stationed at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, VA. Upon honorable discharge, he began working for Boeing Vertol as an Electrical Test Technician working on Chinook and Sea Knight helicopters that were used in the Vietnam War.

While working at Boeing, Jim attended St. Joseph’s University and received a Bachelor of Business degree. He later attended the University of Pennsylvania working toward a master’s degree in organizational dynamics. He formed a successful career in pharmaceutical sales starting with two years at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals and then 31 years at Wallace Laboratories. He was quickly promoted to District Sales Manager and moved to Hartford, CT for five years to manage the New England district. He returned to the Philadelphia area to manage the Philadelphia district and was promoted to Senior District Manager before he retired in 2003.

A series of interests kept Jim active through the years. He was drawn to flying and became an instrument-rated commercial pilot with a flight instructor rating. Jim loved to ski and visited mountains all over Vermont, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Colorado. While living in Connecticut, Jim joined the National Ski Patrol and volunteered at Mt. Tom in Holyoke, MA. Upon returning to the Philadelphia area, he transferred to the Camelback Ski Patrol and volunteered there for the next 41 years during which he achieved Senior Patrol status. When Jim wasn’t skiing on the slopes, he was working in the patrol room assisting the newer patrollers and candidates with his years of knowledge. Jim loved working with the ski patrol and the great family atmosphere that he found at Camelback.

Jim was also an avid golfer and played courses throughout Delaware and Chester Counties and was a member of the Hershey’s Mill Golf Club. As someone who grew up playing football near Philadelphia, he became a loyal Eagles fan and was a season ticket holder for many years and enjoyed attending games with his son, Brian. He enjoyed traveling with his wife Ann and the couple traveled to Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Bermuda, islands in the Caribbean, and went on many cruises. Along the way, he received his Irish Citizenship and had dual citizenship for many years in the United States and Ireland. He also enjoyed spending time with his son, teaching him to ski and golf, going on vacations together, and helping him work on home improvement projects.

He is survived by his wife Ann McKay, son Brian McKay and his wife Paula, grandchildren Maya and Joey McKay, his sister Mickey Horan and her husband Richard, and his nieces and nephews.

In Memoriam – Robert Carhart

In Loving Memory of a Dedicated Ski Patroller
Robert Carhart
April 12, 1953-May 15, 2023

It is with heavy hearts and profound sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved and esteemed ski patroller, Robert (Pappy) Carhart. He departed from this world on Monday, May 15, leaving behind a legacy of courage, compassion, and unwavering dedication to the safety and well-being of others.Born on April 12, 1953, Pappy discovered a passion for skiing at an early age working as a binding mechanic for Nazareth Sporting Goods at Jack Frost Ski Area, and it was on the slopes where he found his true calling. His commitment to ensuring the safety of countless skiers and snowboarders was unparalleled, making him an integral part of the Camelback Ski Patrol. For 42 years, Pappy patrolled the slopes, braving the most challenging conditions with a steadfast resolve. His experience, expertise, and unwavering dedication were a beacon of hope for those in need. He worked tirelessly to ensure the well-being of all who traversed the mountain. He was awarded the Camelback Ski Patroller Award following the 2021-2022 ski season.

Pappy passed his love of skiing onto his two sons who currently patrol at Camelback Mountain Resort. Pappy possessed an infectious enthusiasm for the sport, and he shared his knowledge and love of skiing with countless individuals. As a mentor to aspiring patrollers, he inspired others to follow in his footsteps, imparting invaluable wisdom and instilling a strong sense of camaraderie among his peers.

He was the loving husband of 34 years to Nancy (Henry) Carhart; a caring father to Michelle, Robby, and Mike; and a caring grandfather to Madison. Pappy was born on April 12, 1953, in Easton, PA, he was the son of the late Harry Davis Carhart and Dorothy Joyce (Nenow) Carhart. He was a man of many trades; he was a proud carpenter for many years, and worked for Bethlehem Steel, Riegal Paper Mill of James River, and M&M Mars as a Lab Technician until his retirement.

Pappy enjoyed golfing and coached baseball and soccer for over 20 years. He was a founding member of the Cal Ripken Youth Baseball League of Bushkill Twp. He was a volunteer fireman for Stewartsville Fire Company. Pappy was proud to be an Eagle Scout starting with Troop 63 and finishing with Troop 56 of Greenwich Twp., New Jersey.