Tommy J. Carter |

Tommy J. Carter

Former Aspen ski patroller and ski coach Tommy Carter died July 11 in Montana.

Longtime Aspenite Tommy J. Carter died on July 11 in Kalispell, Mont. Tommy was born in Leadville, Colo., on March 27, 1931, to Thomas and Mabel Carter. He grew up in many places around the West, his father following hard-rock mining from Leadville to Nevada City and Stockton, Calif., to Park City, Utah, and finally to Aspen.

Tommy – nicknamed “Congo” – taught himself to ski at 16 and was an extraordinary athlete. He was part of the early Aspen ski scene in the late ’40s and early ’50s. After his honorable discharge from the Army in 1953 and upon earning a B.A. in journalism at the University of Denver, he and his wife, Jean, returned to Aspen in 1959, where he coached for the Aspen Ski Club until 1966. Later he worked for the Aspen Skiing Corporation as a ski patrol avalanche supervisor and as a self-employed carpenter, freelance photographer and writer. Skiing was his life, though, and this showed in his many athletic and professional accomplishments; he was a candidate for the U.S. Olympic team but broke his leg in the qualifying race.Tommy, Jean, and their kids left Aspen in 1978 for Red Lodge, Mont., where he worked as a journalist and carpenter, and brought NASTAR ski racing to that mountain. Following his divorce from Jean in 1984, he lived and worked in Vail, Colo., and Bend, Ore., settling also in Reno, N.V., and Durango, Colo.; he moved to Whitefish, Mont., in 1998 to be closer to his family. A sudden onset of rheumatoid arthritis prevented his skiing from that point on, but he carpentered for eight years up until his death, framing homes and businesses though he was constantly in pain. He was preceded in death by his parents and by his older brother, Jim, of Haines, Alaska.

Tommy is survived by his ex-wife, Jean, his eldest son, Sean, and his daughter, Jill, both of Whitefish, Mont., and by his youngest son, Michael, of Moab, Utah. He will be sadly missed by them all and by his many friends, cousins and co-workers, who were amazed and moved by his vitality, humor and work ethic.

His ashes will be spread in his favorite place in Conundrum Creek, where his best friend, Johnny Baugh, Sr.’s, ashes were also spread. We know he will find peace in the mountains and valleys he cared for so profoundly.Please send memorials to the Humane Society of Northwest Montana, P.O. Box 221, Kalispell, MT, 59903.

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