By Rob Potter
SULLIVAN COUNTY When Bob “Whip” Whipple of Monticello passed away at the age of 69 on Tuesday following a courageous battle with cancer, he left behind an undeniable legacy of love for his family, friends and community. And of course, skiing.
For more than 40 years, Bob Whipple owned and operated Bob Whipple Ski Shop near Holiday Mountain Ski Area in Bridgeville.
“He was what we would call an ambassador to skiing,” said his son Jeffrey Weyer. “It would be hard to find a skier around here who didn’t know my father. He loved the sport and it made him happy to get people involved with skiing.
“He used to call falling snow white gold because it meant that he would be very busy at the ski shop,” Weyer added.
Glenn Sonnenschein was one of Bob Whipple’s good friends. And for a number of years, Sonnenschein worked with Whipple at the ski shop.
“He cared so much about every person who came into the ski shop,” Sonnenschein, now the head golf professional at Tarry Brae Golf Course said. “If someone needed equipment but there was a financial problem, he would work something out with that customer.
“He especially wanted to see kids enjoy skiing,” Sonnenschein added. “He often worked out deals with their parents to make sure kids had the equipment they needed.”
Sonnenschein recalled how Whipple became the ski instructor at the Concord Hotel in 1966 and would spend many winter days skiing with students at the Concord and then going to work at the ski shop.
Sonnenschein also noted that Whipple was instrumental in creating some events at Holiday Mountain, including the ski carnivals and fire department ski races.
“For several years, we had a ‘Skiing with the Pros’ program on Wednesdays at Holiday Mountain,” Sonnenschein remembered. “People could go skiing with myself, Bob, Art Solomon and Bob Roche.”
The connection between the Whipple and Sonnenschein families and skiing continued as Glenn’s son Todd worked with Bob Whipple at the ski shop for eight years.
When Linda Morgan bought the ski shop four years ago, Todd Sonnenschein remained with the business, which was renamed Morgan House Ski & Snowboard Shop. Today, Todd Sonnenschein is the manager of Morgan House Ski & Snowboard Shop. Todd’s brother, Ryan Sonnenschein, also works at the business.
Judy Rhulen was President of the Holiday Mountain Ski Club from 1983-1990. During that time, about 500 kids were members of the club. She recalls going to Bob Whipple Ski Shop so the club members could get equipment.
“Bob was so terrific with the kids,” Rhulen said. “If there were kids who could not afford the equipment they needed, he would just give it to them.”
As the General Manager of Holiday Mountain for 20 years, Gerald Fielding knew Bob Whipple very well.
“Bob was an excellent skier himself,” said Fielding, who is the Town of Thompson Historian. “He really enjoyed getting out and skiing.”
Fielding recalled how he and Whipple went to Mt. Snow in Vermont in the 1960s to be ski instructors. In addition to teaching others, Whipple learned about making snow.
“They were just starting to make snow with machines at Mt. Snow back then,” Fielding said. “So Bob stayed there and learned how to run the machines. He was probably one of the first people to make snow in Vermont.”
Whether it was making snow, teaching people to ski or making sure they got the needed equipment when visiting his ski shop, Bob Whipple helped hundreds of people enjoy the sport of skiing.
“He was the king,” Glenn Sonnenschein said.
Among those Whipple leaves behind are his wife of 27 years Dr. Maureen Whipple, son Jeffrey Weyer and daughters Jackie Rutledge and Ali Granito.