Richard J. Polster, 1943-2009
Vail Ski School (Lionshead) icon Richard Polster passed away Thursday surrounded by his wife, Cassie; his daughters, Sandy and Suzanne; and Jay Corsetti, who has been his cohort since they embarked on their adventure to Colorado from New York and Ski-A-Rama some 26 years ago. Dave Alonzo, a dear friend of Dick’s who also spoke Easterner, rounded out this circle. Dick’s sense of humor and impeccable timing made his grand exit joyous and peaceful.
Dick’s love of the outdoors in all its forms, combined with his irreverence and sense of fun, made any outing a “blast.” Older instructors still remember the infamous “keg and bus” trips to Glenwood Hot Springs booked under alias ski school names as each year that “ski school” would be banned in the future. The ski school golf tournaments owe much to Dick’s bringing friends together to play and, especially, to compete.
Dick was a father of four at age 23. He suffered the pain of losing his 15-month-old son, John, to spinal meningitis but remained a good father to his daughters, Sondra Lynn, Suzanne Eva and Stacey Janelle, as well as to his seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Few from his life here in the valley knew, too, that the L.A. Dodgers drafted him out of high school, that he studied engineering at Occidental and that he designed packaging machines for Avon cosmetics.
In Vail, Dick worked for ski school for 26 years. Throughout, he remained the beginner skier’s staunchest ally, whether bringing them back to his class, improving their terrain with the cat crew or coaching other instructors in his art. As outspoken as Dick was, he was such a fine instructor that he was promoted to supervisor of adult classes. He held this position until this year, when he felt unable to perform at the level he demanded of himself, and went “back to blue” part time.
As well as being a supervisor for the past 10 years, Dick’s life bloomed with his marriage to Cassie Perlmutter, whom he met at the end-of-the-season ski school barbecue. After a brief courtship, the two married, and they produced the joy of a mature father, Braden John, in 1999. One would be hard-pressed to see a happier, prouder father.
All those who knew him, Cassie or Braden are invited to a memorial Sunday at the top of Eagle’s Nest from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The gondola will start loading at 5 p.m.
The family appreciates the many acts of kindness and generosity. Contributions may be made to the Dick Polster Memorial Fund at 1st Bank.