While making turns with his friends on the opening day of ski season, Jack Mehaffey suffered a stroke on the Susquehanna. Ski patrol responded. Jack’s care was excellent; he was transported rapidly and efficiently.
As Jack reached definitive care quickly, initially, it seemed that his prognosis was good. Though certainly his injury was very concerning, knowing Jack, we all felt that he’d bounce back, maybe even quickly enough to enjoy some more turns with friends come spring time.
In the following days, the news was not so good. Jack was in a coma. The information provided by the machines monitoring his condition was not encouraging.
Chatting at lunch with a mutual ski buddy who too had suffered a stroke, and after a couple of years, has made a nearly complete recovery, we decided that despite the facts of Jack’s condition, we would remain optimistic. We weren’t about to write him off. Jack was one of the best skiers we knew. And skiers, we agreed, are generally a stubborn sort and don’t die easily.
Finally, the news of Jack’s passing reached the mountain earlier this week.
While in coma, he gave us a few days to keep him in the forefront of our mind, and to finally, say so long.
The response from many folks, patrollers and instructors, when asked how they knew Jack, was simply “Jack is family”.
There was an integrity about Jack that made one feel close to him even if one didn’t know him that long. He had a quiet strength that made one feel that, when the chips were down, he’s the guy you want to be at your side.
There was a gentleness and ease about him that one would not expect from someone who had spent a career in law enforcement in one of the toughest cities in the country.
As a husband, son, brother, father, grandfather, police officer, ski instructor, friend, and member of the mountain family, Jack spent his life in service to others.
He suffered the injury that would take him from us among his ski buddies, doing what he loved most.
A rich life sharing love of sport and service to others punctuated among friends on a ski slope is more than most of us could hope for. Even after passing, Jack continues to inspire us.
And, except for maybe a movie star, nobody, but nobody, wore a smile and a mustache as good as Jack did.