Jack Mehaffey

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.

4 thoughts on “Jack Mehaffey”

  1. Thank you for such beautiful and true words about Jack. He was a good friend to us and loving husband to Sandy. We will miss him very much.
    A special thanks to the best ski patrol anywhere and emergency services that helped.

  2. I met Jack at a PSIA-E ProJam in December, 2010 through another friend in the Elk family, Kirk Newsome. Subsequently, Jack greeted me warmly every time I saw him at Elk or at ProJam. I am really blessed to have enjoyed his friendship.

    I was unable to make it to ProJam this year, and I did not see any of my Elk friends this season until this past week. Only when I asked about Jack at the Elk ski school desk last Friday did I learn from Don about the tragedy that occurred back on opening day. The torchlight parade Saturday night plus this well-crafted tribute attest to how well Jack was loved by his Elk family. The love, respect and admiration for Jack extends far beyond Elk Mountain to the entire PSIA community and to everyone who was graced to know him. I will remember Jack especially whenever I ski Susquehanna, which has long been a favorite trail for me. I hope it was also one of his favorites.

    Dave Berger
    jfbb (Big Boulder) and Blue Mountain ski schools

    1. I am grateful your expression of remembrance of Jack and I continue to be moved by the ever-expanding breadth of his touch. Please carry him with you when you ski and when you teach. By doing so you will keep Jack’s ripples moving outward, spreading the exhilaration of the ski instructor’s life as he did every day on and off the hill.
      Thank you,
      Sandy Mehaffey

  3. Thank you for such beautiful and true words about my dad. He was a wonderful, loving, caring father, grandfather, husband, son, brother, uncle and friend. We all miss him more than words can describe.

    You could not have said it better my dad was a movie star in my eyes “nobody, wore a smile and a mustache as good as Jack did” He will always be my hero!!

    I would also like to say thank you to the ski patrol, emergency services and anyone else that helped with my dad.

    Thank you
    Tina Sharp (Mehaffey)

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