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December 12. 2013 11:05PM

People are still learning to ski, thanks to Gordon McKenney


 

Gordon McKenny, seen here around 1970, was a ski instructor most of his life. (COURTESY)

Gordon McKenney was a ski instructor at Pats Peak for 42 years; his tenure is the longest in the mountain's history. But what made McKenney special was his passion, values and unwavering dedication.

McKenney lived in Bedford and Goffstown and was a part-time ski instructor. When he retired from PSNH at 55, he began working full-time at Pats Peak until he died at 76. The creation of the Gordon McKenney Memorial Scholarship Fund was announced at his funeral in 2009.

"This is a nonprofit organization set up in honor of Gordon McKenney and his love of sharing the sport of skiing," said his daughter, Lauren McKenney. "This scholarship fund enables New Hampshire children to learn the sport of skiing or snowboarding that might otherwise not have the financial means to do so. The ultimate goal is to empower kids by building confidence and self-assurance in the great outdoors."

She added: "Our hope is that this gift they will take with them forever through their journey of life, the very gift we feel blessed to have received from our father."

David Chapman, former Pats Peak Ski School director, described Gordon McKenney as "one of the most professional and dependable ski instructors I have had the privilege of knowing."

"The thousands and thousands of students that he taught over the years are an incredible legacy," Chapman said. "It can truly be said that he will leave the world a much better place than he found it."

Gordon's wife, Marilyn, and three daughters were in tow every weekend with him at Pats Peak because skiing was a family affair, as sailing was in the summer.

"No matter how bitter cold, no matter what the conditions, dad would come in from a day of skiing with a huge smile," Lauren McKenney said.

Scholarship applicants are required to write an essay, she said. The scholarships provide skiing or snowboard opportunities, lessons and equipment, if necessary.

"We thought we could get cute letters," McKenney said. "We do get some of that, although not often, but instead some tough ones. The one that most got us this year was a little girl that lives in the basement of someone's home. Her mom sleeps in the laundry room."

She said to date the scholarship fund has helped 12 children each year. But this year there is only enough money to provide four scholarships. All gifts are tax-deductible; 100 percent of donations go to the children.

To donate: http://gordonmckenney.org/#donate. The fund is also on Facebook.

Donations can be sent by check to: Bertie Holland, Ski School Director Pats Peak Ski Area PO Box 2448 Henniker, NH 03242 ATTN: The Gordon McKenney Memorial Scholarship Fund. Checks should be made payable to: Youth Enrichment Services, Inc. Please add: "c/o The Gordon McKenney Memorial Scholarship Fund" in the memo line.

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Other scholarships:

• M.J. LaFoley Foundation. M.J. LaFoley died at 16 while a freshman at the Holderness School.

The foundation provides an opportunity for deserving students to meet their special needs or achieve educational or amateur athletic goals through special programs, whether athletic, educational or artistic. M.J.'s Race for high school and college ski racers is known for the big food tent, give-aways and new T-Shirt design each year. The 20th annual race was held last March.

For more information or to donate: http://mjfoundation.org.

• The Franconia Ski Club and Cannon Mountain award four scholarships to attend the race club and four scholarships for kids to learn to ski or snowboard; all eight recipients also receive a season pass.

Students are required to write an essay.

For more information or to donate: www.franconiaskiclub.com.

• The Josh Russell Ski Racing Scholarship Fund was established in 2004. Josh started to ski at age 4 at Pats Peak and was racing by 5.

At Hopkinton High, he participated in ski racing, cross-country, ski jumping and downhill.

He made it to the Junior Olympic level in downhill skiing and ski jumping.

He died at 25 in an auto accident. His family hosts the Josh Russell Memorial Race at Pats Peak and an annual ice fishing derby.

For information or to donate: http://joshrussellskiracing.org.


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