The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Bennetts to retire from Ski Patrol


Submitted photo

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Escape representatives pose with Roger "Pat" Bennetts, who donated a portion of the money gathered at the party celebrating his 50th anniversary in the National Snow Patrol to DOVE's shelter in Ironwood. DOVE representatives, from left, Legal Advocate Pamela Niemi, Mich. case manager Amber Hendrickson and Wis. case manager Jaclyn Aijala.

IRONWOOD - After 50 years of being a member of the National Ski Patrol, Roger "Pat" Bennetts has decided this would be his final season actively patrolling the area's ski hills.

"It's been a great 50 years supporting the ski hills and helping injured guests in times of need," Bennetts said. "I'm grateful for all the training that the National Ski Patrol has provided."

Over the last half-century, Bennetts has helped skiers as a member of the ski patrols at Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort, Blackjack Ski Resort and Indianhead Mountain Resort.

Bennetts joked that when he started with the ski patrol, one reason people joined was that they couldn't afford a lift pass.

"I couldn't afford one at 17," Bennetts said. "My dad certainly wasn't going to buy one for me."

Most of those who join ski patrol are the type of people who would help skiers anyway.

"Ninety-nine percent (of ski patrol members) are willing to help people in distress or those who are injured on the hill," Bennetts said.

While helping skiers was what drove many people to join the organization; tending to injured skiers in cold or windy conditions isn't something that's easy to look forward to. Bennetts credited the camaraderie that formed between the members for keeping the organization together.

"It evolves into one big ski-patrol family," said Bennetts said.

Bennetts also served as an instructor for the National Ski Patrol, due in part to his desire to ensure that the excellent training provided by the program was continued.

Kathy Zumbrock, of Hope Animal Shelter, accepts a donation from Roger "Pat" Bennetts. The funds were raised at a party to celebrate his 50th anniversary in the National Snow Patrol.

Bennetts' friends and family gathered Saturday at the Black River Lodge in Ironwood to surprise Bennetts with a celebration to mark his years of helping others.

Bennetts' surprise party -organized by Bill Flesch, who had served on the Blackjack Patrol with Bennetts - allowed patrollers, both new and old, to gather and tell stories.

The party also served to give back to the community with $527 in donations raised for the Domestic Violence Escape Shelter and an additional $150 raised for the Hope Animal Shelter - two of Bennetts' favorite local charities. Many attendees also brought non-perishable food that were donated as well.

The end of Bennetts tenure on the ski patrol won't keep him off the slopes though, as he plans to begin teaching ski lessons at Indianhead and Blackjack resorts.


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