William D. “Bill” Nugent

The Central New York Region remembers a dedicated ski patroller and physician in William D. “Bill” Nugent, who passed away at the age of 94 on February 24, 2024. For more than two decades, starting in 1968, Bill patrolled at Labrador Mountain, and as a medical doctor, offered many ski patrol training sessions and advice to the patrols in the former Syracuse Section. Bill was known for his wit, his great sense of humor, and ability as a storyteller. He epitomized a generation of patrol leadership in Central New York. Bill was awarded National Appointment 4467 in 1974.

Bill graduated from what is now Upstate Medical Center in 1957 and became a hard-working anesthesiologist at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse until 2005. When he retired at age 76, many people lauded him as a life saver and a hero. He never hesitated to share his expert medical knowledge with the ski patrol or to his neighbors. During his career, he served as president of the Central New York Chapter of the American Heart Association, and president of the New York State Society of Anesthesiologists.

In addition to his love of skiing and the ski patrol, Bill was also a lifetime member of the Grasse River Outdoors Club in northern New York state, where he spent time and made many friendships. He was an avid hunter, lover of water, ducks, and dogs. Bill was also a collector of carved wooden ducks.

Dr. Nugent is survived by his wife Donna; eight children: Kim, William, Kelly, Kristin, Megan, Keri, Ryan, and Patrick; 21 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

Catherine “Kay” Seibert

A former patrol leader and section officer in the Central New York Region died at the age of 100 on December 6, 2023. Catherine “Kay” Seibert dedicated two decades of service to the NSP, having served for many years as the former Syracuse Section’s public information advisor and secretary, the last patrol leader of the former Intermont Ski Area in Cortland County (1974), and a Toggenburg patroller from 1974 until the late 1980s. She first joined the National Ski Patrol in 1968 at Intermont.

Kay worked at Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. for 35 years. She served on the board of directors of the Power Federal Credit Union for 21 years and was a past president.

Ski patrol wasn’t Kay’s only passion. She was an avid golfer. Kay also cared deeply for cats and devoted her later years as an active member of the CNY Cat Coalition, where she served as a board member for eight years. She felt her mission was placing healthy abandoned cats in loving homes.

Volker Weiss

Sometimes you never realize just how distinguished a fellow patroller may be as you share life experiences on the slopes, but rarely anywhere else. Volker Weiss was an accomplished patroller whose life story was astounding. He was 93 when he died on November 7, 2023, after fighting cancer for two years.

Volker skied 37 years with the Toggenburg Ski Patrol in the CNY Region (1962-1999), serving as patrol leader in 1971, and was awarded National Appointment 5338 in 1978. He was an avid sportsman, enjoying skiing, sailing, tennis, golf, and hiking. Somehow, Volker also found time to be a talented musician as a guitarist, accordion and recorder performer, and singer. He served a term as board member of the Syracuse Friends of Chamber Music. He was president of the Rotary Club of Syracuse for many years.

Born and raised in Austria, Volker and his family fled their hometown during World War II, and hid from the Nazis for two years in the Austrian Alps. After the war, he completed his undergraduate studies in Vienna, moving to Syracuse, where he completed a master’s and a doctorate at Syracuse University by 1959.

He joined the faculty of SU’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Metallurgy and became a professor. He became chair of his department, was associate dean of the engineering college, and later became director of SU’s Institute of Energy Research. From 1978 to 1986, Volker was vice president for research and graduate affairs. Under his leadership, external funding for SU researchers nearly doubled. Volker reorganized the SU graduate school and founded the journal Syracuse Scholar.

He had authored more than 70 publications on metallurgy, and materials evaluation and fatigue by the time he retired in 1996. In retirement, Volker continued to do research for such clients as the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Carrier Corporation, and Ford Motor Company. He was a fellow of the American Society of Metals; and shared the U.S. patent related to self-monitoring metals, alloys, and materials. Volker also earned recognition by NASA, NATO, and the Fulbright Program.

Volker was predeceased by his wife Peg. He is survived by sons Erick (who was a ski patroller for four years) and Christopher; and four grandchildren.

Earl Lewis Evans

Earl Lewis Evans passed away peacefully on August 29, 2023, at the age of 89. He was the son of Earl Anthony and Catherine (Parvis) Evans of Albany, NY. Earl was a graduate of Albany High School and attended Bucknell University. He was a veteran of the Korean War and received an honorable discharge.

Earl spent most of his career as the director of the Regional Emergency Medical Organization (REMO) and was instrumental in standardizing training programs for paramedics. During his 45-plus years as a paramedic, Earl volunteered for the Town of Colonie Emergency Medical Services, as well as managing the Knickerbocker (MVP) Arena EMS program.

Earl enjoyed the outdoors, especially hiking, camping, and skiing. He was a founding member and past president of the Out-of-Control Ski Club and worked as a ski patroller at Royal Mountain. Earl also was an avid N.Y. Giants and Mets fan.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Judith Anne Robillard; his children, Christopher (Tricia) Evans of Guilderland, NY; Scott (Angela) Evans of Santa Fe, NM; Timothy (Yokasta) Evans-Lora of Brooklyn, NY; Shawn Evans of Colonie, NY; and Kelly (Lawrence) Evans of Stamford, CT; his grandchildren, Erika, Alexander, Marissa, Kaelynn and Dylan Evans, and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister, Barbara (Evans) Currier; and brother-in-law, Gerald Currier.

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy in Earl’s memory may be made to the Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany at naba-vision.org or a charity of your choice.

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