February 3 is a day we remember our best ski buddy, Wes Mills of Kennebunk Maine. Wes Mills Ski Day is celebrated at Sunday River annually on his birthday, sadly in his absence – we lost Wes too soon after his valiant battle against renal carcinoma that took him away on September 28, 2016. But his ski spirit lives on in our hearts, our minds, we all continue to “Ski some lines for Wes” …among his beautiful parting words to ski friends.
Wes was a true hero in a sense, and a top alpine supporter. How many people thought of Wes Mills as their best ski buddy? That was one of Wes’ many gifts. Wes always brought joy, humor and love – everywhere he went, and always to the ski slopes. He wouldn’t want us to be sad …he would want us to be happy – glad we knew him, happy for our mountain adventures with him, he’d want us to carry on – to carry him in our memory skiing, biking, boating.
To know Wes was to love him. He was the mayor at Sunday River, the committee boat at Stage Harbor, 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 an untracked summit with his buds, that was pure joy to him. His mom said, “We didn’t let our 3 boys play basketball, because winter weekends were for skiing.”
Wes travelled the globe in search of deep powder with his ski posse – from Jordan Bowl to Japan with SAAS, Sunday River to the Swiss Alps, making new friends at every turn, cherishing every moment, every run. He could tele like nobody’s business, 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 in the room, the only thing that mattered at that moment. He cared, and he remembered – even the things you hoped he would forget. “Hey Heather, remember that time you were petrified to go heli skiing? Look at you now, attagirl.”
As 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 would also find something tremendously positive about the conditions, a perfect patch of cord, or soft carve-able snow on an otherwise firm fast freezing day. He prioritized fun, and friends, and family.
Wes always brought his best, never complained or tuckered out. He found humor in everything. He was strong but humble, a tease but only in kindness and thoughtfulness. He climbed every mountain, carved every slope, lived life to the fullest.
Friend Bill Basset said, “I think Wes wanted to be buried in his ski boots.” Well, he will be in our ski thoughts, in our pockets and our packs on those perfect powder days, and when its sleet and hail, we’ll find the silver lining and think of our amazing optimistic friend, forever… this ski season, and always.
Friends of Wes gather annually at Barker Mountain at Sunday River on February 3, his birthday, often Superbowl Sunday, ski some lines for him, then meet up after for après ski drinks at Barker Bar. A toast with his retired Barker Mug is in order! Wes’ skis are mounted above the Barker Bar. Prophetic, The Weather Channel named a winter snow storm for ” Wesley” that dumped snow last year at The River. He is with us…