The Swain Ski Patrol in upstate NY lost one of our key members when Mark Whitford, 56, died of cancer on August 28, 2014.
Mark contributed to his patrol and region beyond expectations as both a patroller and an auxiliary for his 26-year NSP career, functioning as both a teacher and leader to help fulfill the NSP educational mission. He began as an alpine patroller in 1988 and served in that role at Swain for approximately 15 years. A medical condition ended his ability to continue driving and tail-roping toboggans, but that did not deflect his determination to continue serving the skiing public. He maintained his registration as an auxiliary and continued to fulfill shift requirements in the first aid room weekly on a night that sees approximately 400 school children on the hill. As a veteran patroller, he set an example for younger patrol candidates as he worked closely with them during the training season and served as a mature and friendly role model inspiring them to complete their training. His enthusiasm and skill continued at the highest levels into his third decade of patrolling and he was recognized for his many contributions over his long patrolling and auxiliary career with the awarding of the Eastern Division Outstanding Auxiliary Patroller Award in 2011.
Mark made substantial contributions to his patrol and to the Genesee Valley Region as an OEC instructor, a CPR instructor, and as an administrator on his patrol’s executive committee. He served as an OEC instructor teaching at the region OEC candidate class, the region OEC refreshers, and at the patrol on-the-hill refreshers. He consistently taught OEC classes each season to the patrol candidates from the seven ski patrols that are enrolled in the region OEC candidate course and for many years he directed OEC modules at the on-the-hill refresher. In 2000 his local patrol voted him the Instructor of the Year Award for his excellent work in OEC and CPR instruction.
Mark was elected by his peers to serve as Patrol Secretary for four years. After his term was over, he was then was selected by the Patrol Director to be the Assistant Patrol Director for OEC on the basis of his prior contributions as an OEC instructor. He readily assumed this responsibility and completed important administrative accomplishments at Swain. These duties included scheduling and coordination of the annual on-the-hill refresher for the entire patrol of approximately 100 volunteer members and overall management of the patrol room, including first aid supplies, budget, inventory control, purchase orders, and replenishment of disposable material and repair of durable equipment. In this capacity, he also served on the patrol executive committee that works with management for the overall administration of patrol activities.
Mark was a certified American Heart Association CPR instructor and annually taught the CPR course for the region candidates from the seven area ski patrols who were enrolled in the region OEC candidate course. In addition he organized, administered, and taught four CPR refresher classes per year for his home ski patrol to keep the local patrollers up to date in their CPR certification, receiving a Yellow Merit Star in 2006 for his teaching activities. Off the hill, he also taught CPR for the Lakeville NY Volunteer Fire Department and the Livonia NY Ambulance Corps, both of which he served as a long-standing member and officer, and for the Conesus Lake Scuba Diving Association. His CPR teaching benefited many people who were in need of emergency services from his town’s firefighters, ambulance crews, and diving instructors.
Mark is survived by his wife of 35 years Debbie, sons Mark, Jason, Shawn, and Kyle, grandchildren Maddie, Kian, and Rhys, and many other relatives in his large family. He will be remembered as both a friend and colleague by many patrollers throughout the Genesee Valley Region and his gentle manner, constant smile, and sincere personality will be missed by all of us who knew and served with him.
Nicholas Schiavetti,Swain Ski Patrol Alumnus