Obituary: Herman Kress Dupre
Herman Kress Dupré left the world a better place on April 25, 2020.
Herman was born in Ligonier, Pennsylvania on August 13, 1932. The son of two Bavarian immigrants, Helen Kress and Alois Dupré, he went on to become a quintessential American success story. His education started in a one-room schoolhouse, and then continued at Somerset High School. From there, he went on to attend St. Vincent College, where he studied chemistry, and graduated in 1953. Herman was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Science from his alma mater in 2008. He maintained friendships with many of the faculty of St. Vincent, and was always willing and eager to support their good works and community endeavors. In further recognition of those who most influenced his life, Herman also established “The Distinguished Teacher Award” in 1975, that annually recognizes the best high school teachers in Pennsylvania.
After graduating from the Coast Guard Academy as an officer, Herman served in the U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska from 1953-1955, and then returned to Pennsylvania. He met his lifelong love, Mary “Sis” McSwigan, while she was a summer camp counselor, and they married in 1957. Their 63-year journey together brought them nine daughters: Denise, Laura, Rosi, Anni, Jan, Heidi, Gretl, Michele, and Renee. They, in turn, introduced 29 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren into the Dupré clan: Ava, Berit, Calvin, Cam, Casey, Daisy, Edel, Eli, Emily, Gordon, Gus, Heidi, Henry, Herman Robert, Izzy, Lars, Libby, Liza, Marcella, Maria, Max. Mia, Nelson, Noah, Ollie, Pauline, Sabina, Shannon, Sophia, Tess, and Tilly.
As their beloved “Papster”, he was a master instructor, and taught them how to tap maple trees, fill fish food machines, build a campfire with half a match, drive a stick-shift, and efficiently collect scattered litter. They all responded to his effervescent “Excellenté”, a word he coined, that expressed excitement, and could be globally understood.
Guided by his parents’ thrift and hard work, Herman took over the reins of Seven Springs, at the age of 23 upon the death of his father. He transformed the fishing and hunting camp into a favorite destination for Pittsburgh and mid-Atlantic sports enthusiasts. Herman was a practical dreamer and a builder. From acres of raw land, he imagined a self-contained municipality that could provide a year-round family resort experience. Where others saw piles of rocks and forest, Herman saw beautiful buildings. Seven Springs became renowned for its warm hospitality, varied skiing opportunities for all ages and abilities, and its natural beauty. For decades, as generations of families returned each year and became honorary Duprés, Herman was at the front door of the lodge greeting old friends with a firm handshake and making new ones by his infectious laughter and generous, warm heart.
Herman was an engineer, a builder, an inventor, and a naturalist. He held thirty-four patents, many of which were devoted to his true passion, snowmaking. His technology allowed Seven Springs to build one of the largest snowmaking systems in the world, yet one that remained ever-conscious of the environment he sought to protect and preserve. Many of his innovations formed the basis of HKD Snowmakers, now a global leader at resorts across the world. In recognition of Herman’s many contributions to the ski industry, from resort development and management to leadership and innovation, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Ski Area Association.
During his lifetime, Herman planted over a million trees, and he probably spoke to nearly that many people. He could be found in all corners of Seven Springs asking visitors and staff, “How can we be doing things better around here?” That simple question showed his humility, his optimism, and his recognition that nearly everyone is an expert at something. His was a life of learning, teaching, and difference-making. His quest for improvement got him out of bed early every day, and he met every day with gusto.
Herman sought out adventures, whether on cross country motorcycle trips with friends, travels with his sons-in-law, the “Outlaws”, tinkering in his treasured “Santa’s Workshop”, or cultivating “Lake Herman.” Herman lived by the Bavarian saying, “Oh wanderer, störe nicht des waldes frieden,”: finding peace in the woods. He spent his last days exploring the surrounding Laurel Mountains admiring, as he did every year, the sense of renewal brought by signs of Spring.
Herman exited this temporal world in the way he would have wanted: in sound mind and body, truly content, and at peace. His joyful spirit, boundless curiosity, and endless capacity for wonder inspired his nine daughters, their spouses, his dozens of grandchildren, and all of those who were graced by his presence. He leaves important legacies across industries, countries, and continents, and most importantly, through the many lives he touched with wisdom, kindness, and grace.
In honor of Herman’s life, if you would like to plant a tree, or contribute to The Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion at St. Vincent College, the family would be most grateful. The family is archiving stories, memories, and lessons learned from Herman. Please send yours to SisAndFamily@gmail.com. Skiers and non-skiers alike, he lifted us all.
The service is private. A celebration of his life will be planned in the future.