PSEF MOURNS THE PASSING OF FOUNDING MEMBER ERLING OMLAND
Erling Omar Omland was born May 21, 1917 in Pittsfield, Mass., son of Jacob and Bessie Ellingsen Omland. He was educated in the public schools of Risør, Norway, Flatbush, NY and Roselle, NJ. He attended Union College in Cranford, NJ. He married Carolyn Burke (Connie) Omland, October 15, 1955.
For Erling, skiing was a way of life. He was founder and President of both the Watchung Amateur Ski Club, currently celebrating its 75th year, and the New Jersey Ski Council. He was proud to know and support the great people who established Pico, to have helped its racing programs flourish and more recently to be a senior statesman for alpine skiing, honored to be Pico Ski Club’s “Man of the Century”. Starting in the late 1930s and for six decades following he made annual pilgrimages to Tuckerman’s Ravine on Mount Washington. He served as Director, Treasurer and Vice President of the Eastern Amateur Ski Association. He was a member of the board of the Vermont Amateur Racing Association and a founder of the Pico Ski Education Foundation.
After first registering as a conscientious objector, he joined and served in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II, and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his combat service in Italy. He taught and supervised military mountaineering skills including skiing and rock climbing with the Mountain Training Group at Camp Hale, Colorado. After the war he taught skiing with Walter Prager at Dartmouth where he was a Certified Professional Ski Instructor and supervised military mountaineering at Camp Carson, Colorado. In l947-8 he returned to Norway to assist in the rebuilding of the ancestral family farms which had fallen into disrepair during WWII.
Prior to moving to Vermont in 1952, he was an accountant with Johnson and Johnson in New Jersey. In Vermont Erling held a variety of accounting and managerial positions: Green Mountain Marble, Killington Wood Products, College of Saint Joseph in Rutland, Saint Joseph’s College in Bennington, Sisters of Saint Joseph, and Rutland Mental Health.
Within the Rutland region, Erling was a Director of the Rutland Regional Chamber of Commerce (an interesting position for a lifelong socialist), and Director, Past President and Paul Harris Fellow of the Rutland Rotary Club. With his wife Connie he was a member of the Vermont Ecumenical Council and was active in Vermont Cursillo.
As a writer he documented daily life in thousands of songs, poems and letters to his family. He scribed countless newsletters for ski and rotary clubs. He was honored to share his poems at 10th Mountain Division events, including having Tom Brokaw read one of his poems during the TV broadcast of the 2002 Winter Olympics. He was a contributing editor to Norway Times and Skiing Heritage. His column “Leaves from a Skiers Journal” regularly appeared in the Mountain Times over three decades. After retirement Erling devoted much of his time to writing, and published a memoir of his Norwegian and WWII experiences, Hill Echoes.
Erling was consistent and devoted to his wife Connie (Carolyn Burke Omland) who died of cancer in 2002 and to Ruth Fish with whom he delightedly shared his last decade. Erling cared deeply about social justice, peace and the health of natural systems. He loved everyday life. Mowing the lawn, chopping wood, helping those near him on projects and officiating the start of races – perhaps especially on cold days!
Survivors include son Kevin and Sonja Scheffer and grandson Alex of Maryland; daughter Mari and Laura Olsen of Northfield; son Kristian and Laurel Omland, grandchildren Phoebe and Aron of Jericho; and beloved partner Ruth Fish of Rutland.
In lieu of flowers contributions honoring Erling may be made to Pico Ski Education Foundation, Dismiss House and Rutland United Way.
Calling hours will be at Clifford Funeral Home 4-7pm, Friday September 26th and a memorial service will be held at the Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge at Pico Mountain at 11am Saturday, September 27th followed by a lunch reception.