Sitting at one of the tables reserved for friends of Lois Dupre Schuster, I was engaged in a conversation with Angel and Andy Michanowicz and Willis Croker. Willis is a bright young guy involved in commercial real estate in Pittsburgh and I ended up apologizing to him for Andy and I rehashing 50 year old ski stories of friends and events. That is kind of the way it was at the induction ceremony this weekend at Seven Springs Resort for the Pennsylvania Snow Sports Museum Hall of Fame. Willis’s grandmother Lois and her late husband Phillip were inducted this year into the Hall of Fame and it was a fitting award for two people who really shaped the soul of Seven Springs back in the day.
Lois not only developed the rental shop at Seven Springs back in the day, as well as many other services, but served as the mayor of Seven Springs Boro for 50 years. Her enthusiasm for the ski area and the people who came as guests was only matched by her late husband Phillip who was the “go to” guy for a lot of daily things at the resort in the early days. Lois said that if you needed anything, you called Phillip. He was just that kind of guy who always had a resolution for any issue and was always willing to help. Lois had a great story about the early days when a congressman and his wife arrived at Seven Springs. The hotel was booked and when asked by the congressman if there was anything Phillip could do to secure a room, he responded that he had extra beds in his home. That is just the kind of person Phillip was. 40 years of Christmas cards that came in the following years from President Gerald Ford and his wife Betty, served to show how much they appreciated the effort. They had a great time and always remembered the kindness of the Dupres.
Stories like this abounded at the induction ceremony. Rus Davies, a local legend in ski instruction and ski patroller foundations at Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, and Laurel Mountain was also inducted in a most deserving way. And behind every good man is a good woman. Rus’s wife Miriam encouraged Rus all along the way in his illustrious career with the ski community.
Western Pa has been widely represented in the nominations and elections to the Hall of Fame. Josef Cabe, Dick Barron, Jim McClure, Bill Bendl, Herman Dupre, Lars Skylling, Willi Klein, Doc DesRoches, and the founders of Seven Springs- Helen and Adolph Dupre. Even Olympic medalist and World Cup racer Dianne Roffe has also been inducted for her work with ski areas in Pennsylvania.
But as Charlie Hinchliffe and I looked about the room this weekend and at the subsequent reception at Lois’s home. we remarked that it was amazing to see how many people there look at skiing as a lifestyle and not just something that they do once in a while. People like Frank and Michelle Pipak, whose countless hours as PSIA Level III ski instructors have enriched the lives of their students in many ways. Rich Wright was there to honor Lois as he was the voice of Seven Springs for many years on the PA system. If you continued to scan the reception, it was amazing to see how well people are faring after many years. Skiing does that to you. It keeps you young and alive and enthusiastic for that first snowflake that comes as the herald of winter. There are people who ski, and then there are skiers. The people in that room and at the reception were skiers – there is a difference.
Now many of us have skied all over the world and appreciate the Rockies, the Wasatch, the Alps and other alpine venues. And although the Laurel Highlands do not offer the vertical drop of some other places in this country, the soul of skiing still exists strongly in our part of the world. We all consider the Laurel Highlands our home field and it is always great to reconnect at the beginning of the season and see our winter friends enjoying the slopes once again. The passion that the inductees into the Pa. Snowsports Hall of Fame have shown, indicates a love for something that is greater than themselves. They selflessly contributed and developed the opportunities for many of us to enjoy the sport of skiing- right here in our home state of Pennsylvania. The Eastern contingent of guests this weekend also feel the same way about their inductees from the Poconos and together, the blending at the reception of eastern Pa skiers and Western Pa skiers was really heartwarming to see.
As I drove home from the event, I thought about the 61 years that I have spent in the Laurel Highlands and the friends that I have made over the years. Skiing has brought so much to my life and thinking of friends who are no longer with us, but made an impact, was a bit nostalgic driving down County Line Road. Pennsylvania has a rich history in the sport of skiing, and to have it celebrated with events like the induction ceremonies this weekend, showcases the enthusiasm and passion that local skiers have for their home mountains. I am happy to have been a part of it and hopefully will have many more years on the slopes both locally and in other areas where there is another whole host of friends who share the same love of the sport of skiing. Thanks for reading, congratulations to all the inductees, and think snow!!
Great storyline Pat and well written. So wonderful to hear all the names and people we grew up with. Hello to all.
Love the Chronicles!
Chip- always great to hear from you especially as busy as you are. Lots of your old buddies at the event and the stories you would have loved. Thanks for supporting and reading as usual. Hope to see you on the slopes when you get a break from the racetracks.
Loved this post❤️
Sent from my iPhone
Thanks for the awesomd write up. I had hoped to go, but recovering from my knee replacement kept me away. I must say, skiing, and my 7Springs has always been a motivator for me to recover and move forward from past injuries.
See you out there this winter Lynne. Keep on recovering.
I have had the privledge and honor to both attend several of these past events and know most of the people past and present honored. Although age and injuries have stopped my participation in skiing, I will always have warm memories of the many people and days spent at 7 Springs.
You will always be a Seven Springs regular.
Was talking to one of the old timers and commented how lucky we were to have been skiers in the days Grandma would water the plants in the ski lodge and Herman would be having breakfast at the counter in the café in his flannel shirt.
Great gathering of people and great post!
Thanks Jill. Nice to see Charlie there.
I’ve always considered myself a johnnie come later to the sport especially next to all you guys, The great memories from the 80’s and 90’s at Seven Springs are a big part of my life! i miss it for sure now that I’m a western snob Thanks for this awesome post.
You are always one of us Art.
as always Pat , great job !
Thanks for reading Steve. Hope your place and boat in Florida are ok?
Great article and wonderful event.
Nice story about the legends of Western PA skiing.
Thanks for reading John .
Great write up Pat. I am glad that you could be there. It was great to see so many of the ski regulars from Seven Springs, Hidden Valley and Laurel Mountain that I worked with in my 35 year “second career” in the ski industry! And I was especially honored to be invited to the reception at Lois’s home afterward to continue chatting with all those who have made careers in the ski industry. When I thanked Lois as Miriam and I were leaving the reception at her beautiful home, she graciously reminded me with kind words saying, “We’re classmates!”
So happy for you that day Rus. A fitting tribute to you and Lois.