Obituary: Sanford Morris ‘Sandy’ Treat Jr.
Sanford Morris “Sandy” Treat Jr. died of natural causes at Vail Health Medical Center September 1, 2019. He lived over 96 years.
Sandy was born January 22, 1923, in Flushing, New York to Sandy Treat Sr. and Jane Woodruff Treat. He was their only child. He was raised in New York City but always relished his summer escapes to Orange, Connecticut, where he played both baseball and tennis and his winter escapes to Lake Placid where he started a lifetime on skis.
He left New York public schools for Deerfield Academy where he was the soccer goalie, baseball first baseman and star of Deerfield’s first ski team. He graduated in June 1941 and headed up north to Dartmouth College where he joined the ski team his freshman year.
Sandy was in Hanover, New Hampshire, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Like most of his generation, he was anxious to serve. In 1942, he learned that the United States Army was forming a division of ski troopers. Private Sandy Treat was among the first arrivals in the 10th Mountain Division and stepped off the train in Camp Hale, Colorado, among construction workers and building material.
Then he trained … and trained … and trained. He trained so much he became a trainer himself. The Army calls it a Drill Sergeant. Sandy finished the war in Army Intelligence in the north of Spain. From Deerfield, he had become fluent in Spanish, and his mission was to find and capture fleeing Nazis.
He mustered out in late 1945 and returned to Dartmouth where he captained the ski team and graduated in June of 1949. While in summer language school at Middlebury, he met Marion Knudson from Eastchester, New York, the only child of Norwegian immigrants. Marion became his bride shortly after graduation.
Given his fluency in Spanish and French, Sandy enlisted with Alcan Aluminum. He moved to Montreal where daughter Cindy was born and then was relocated to New York City and then to Geneva, Switzerland, where he attended Centre d’Etudes Industrielle and worked in aluminum operations all over Europe. Then back to New York where daughter Leslie was born. Not much for sitting still, Sandy was appointed Head of Sales for all of Central and South America, and the family moved to Caracas, Venezuela. Son Sandy III was born in Caracas.
Shortly thereafter, the family moved back to New York City, and settled in Greenwich, Connecticut. While there, the family acquired a farm in West Dover, Vermont that … surprise, surprise … was nearly walking distance to Mount Snow. The snow-loving Treats skied at Mount Snow and nearby Haystack Mountain and summered at the farm.
Then Alcan relocated to flat Cleveland, Ohio. Undaunted, Sandy formed a Cleveland USSA junior racing team that used some local hills and nearby New York state so that his mountain-addicted clan was able to continue schussing. Daughters Cindy and Leslie became Midwest champs. Son Sandy was shipped off to Holderness School where he pursued top-level Alpine competition. Unfortunately, the family lost their beloved Marion to cancer at only 50 years of age.
At the same time, Sandy’s career flourished, and he was promoted to President of Alcan Canada Products in Toronto, Ontario. He moved north by his lonesome having lost his bride and all the kids out of the house.
Thereafter followed a flurry of business activities as Sandy dealt with the early ‘80s recession and then boom in the North American economy. In 1982, he met and married a Canadian lass in Barbara Danuke to continue on his life journey. By 1984, he was able to retire from Alcan, and he and Barbara remained in Toronto where they worked together in their own consulting firm.
But the call of the mountains soon overcame Sandy, and he headed west to join his son and new bride Kathy in the Vail Valley. Son Sandy III had left Holderness and became a racer for first the Wyoming Cowboys and then the University of Denver. He was beginning a development business in the Vail Valley. Also, Sandy Jr. already knew Pete Seibert from the 10th Mountain days and was friends with Pepi Gramshammer from his days at a summer racing camp the ski-crazy Treat family attended four years in Red Lodge, Montana.
Sandy’s return to Vail became the longest chapter in his life. His affection for the place and vice versa was remarkable.
From the very first winter that Treat arrived in 1985, up until his serious racing accident in 2009, Sandy was one of the most dominant Masters ski racers in his age class in the Rocky Mountain region. Along with his accomplishments on the slopes, he has been a major part of the ski community through his work to help others in the sport and promote skiing in the Vail Valley and Colorado.
While still in Toronto, Sandy wrote to then Vail Mayor Paul Johnston, asking how he could help the community with the 1989 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships on the horizon. He immediately volunteered in several capacities, including with Mountain Operations Manager Bill “Sarge” Brown. In addition, Treat used his deep knowledge of ski racing and the World Cup circuit to help the Championships run smoothly.
Sandy has held numerous board of directors positions for local volunteer organizations including the Jimmie Heuga Center, the Eagle County Library, Country Club of the Rockies, Vail USSA Racing and others.
He has also worked tirelessly to keep the story and legacy of the 10th Mountain Division alive through his weekly “Tales on the 10th” talks and annual presentations to visiting students and others. These first-hand recollections of Sandy’s training at Camp Hale and the 10th Mountain’s heroic exploits in helping to end World War II in Europe have educated and inspired thousands of museum guests over the course of the past eight years. An integral member of the Colorado Snowsports Museum family, Treat was inducted into the Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame in 2010.
Despite all his activity, Sandy has dealt with great personal adversity while in the Valley. He lost second wife, Barbara, to cancer, in 2006. Barb was very involved with the Vail Valley Foundation and has a separate foundation in her honor as part of the Vail Valley Foundation. Most devastating was the loss of son Sandy III to cancer in early 2015. His wife Kathy, her two sons Sandy IV and Andrew plus her grandson Sandy V, known as Quinn for obvious reasons, and mother Hope Nickeson all remain in the valley. Lastly, cancer also took caregiver and best friend Dale “Cowboy” Foster.
Sandy leaves behind:
- daughter Cindy Hollister, husband John, their four children Will, Ben, Allison Carr (Alex) and Andrew, and Allison’s daughter Logan;
- daughter Leslie’s husband Steve Bouchard and their two children Arianna and Kristen, and Arianna’s daughter Tula; and
- son Sandy III’s wife Kathy and her two sons Sandy IV and Andrew, and, with mother Hope Nickeson, Sandy V.
A memorial service is planned for October 1 at 4 Eagle Ranch. In lieu of flowers, please contribute to the Vail-based Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame.
Anthony’s new film, ‘Mission Mangart,’ uncovers lost history about the famed 10th Mountain Division.