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Wes – the best ski friend ever…

ski-wes-chris-smith-photo3aWes Mills ski day February 3, 2017 at Sunday River was a first annual fun commemorative event for our ski friend on his birthday. Friends rode the Locke Triple chair at 2:45pm, non-skiers too, and gathered atop Locke Mountain for a few words of remembrance from Wes’ friends and family, followed by an après ski party at Barker Bar where Wes was a proud Mug Club member. Tequila shots, specifically Patron, were toasted at  Wes’s favorite ski place.

Wes left us on September 28, 2016 – the day the ski world lost a true hero, one of its top alpine supporters. How many people thought of Wes Mills as their best ski buddy? You could fill a lift corral with followers and fans, in fact Wes often did. That was one of Wes’ many gifts. Wes always brought joy, humor and love – everywhere he went, especially to the ski slopes. He wouldn’t want us to be sad today…he would want us to be happy  – to be glad we knew him, to be happy for our mountain adventures together. Today, he’d surely want us to carry on – to carry him in our memory skiing, biking, boating. As he said to a friend yesterday,  “Shred some for me this winter Jacob.”

wes_shockwaveTo know Wes was to love him. He was the mayor at Sunday River, the committee boat at Stage Harbor in Kennebunkport, the chief of mountain bike rides. Wes loved everything about the great state of Maine – in all seasons – the mountains, the ocean, the lakes, the trails. But his passion for skiing, for hiking to untracked summits with his buds, that was pure bliss to him. His mom said, “We didn’t let our 3 boys play basketball, because winter weekends were for skiing.”

Wes traveled the globe in search of deep powder with his ski posse – from Jordan Bowl to Japan, making new friends at every turn, deepening his relationships, cherishing every moment, every run. He could tele like nobody, except perhaps for his son Wes who literally followed in his tracks.

Another of Wes’ great gifts, when you spoke with him, he made you feel like you were the only one present, the only thing that mattered at that moment. He cared, and he remembered – even the things you hoped he wouldn’t. “Hey Heather, remember that time you were petrified to go heli skiing? Look at you rippin now, attagirl.”

wes-lisa-greg-heather-boatAs friend Doug Patey said, “There was always just one more ridge to summit for Wes.”  His energy and enthusiasm was boundless. He’d say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” Wes’ playfulness and passion for the outdoors were extraordinary. He prioritized fun and friends. His wife Lisa wasn’t as wild about skiing as he, I told her she could excel at après ski at the Foggy Goggle or the Barker Bar where she often joined Wes and friends.

wes-beachWes always brought his best, never complained or tuckered out. He found humor and positivity in everything.

He was strong but humble, a tease but only in kindness and fun. He climbed every mountain, carved every slope, lived life to the fullest.

wes-heatherWes was taken too soon and suddenly after his valiant battle with a very aggressive cancer. He passed peacefully with friends and family at his side 5:25am September 28, 2016, at Mass General. His friends gathered at Kennebunk Beach to pay tribute to him. Friend Bill Basset said, “I think Wes wanted to be buried in his ski boots.”

Wes Mills will be in our ski thoughts, in our pockets and packs this ski season, and always. Who’s you’re Daddy? Ski a line for Wes.

In loving memory, your ski buddy forever, xo Heather Burke

Thanks Chris Smith for the Photo Gallery