10th Mountain Vet, Vermont Stalwart

Passing Date: 
Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Erling Omland

Erling Omar Omland, a stalwart of New England skiing, died Sept. 3 at age 97. Born in Pittsfield, Mass., he grew up in Risr, Norway, Brooklyn, N.Y. and Roselle, N.J. He attended Union College in Cranford, N.J, and in the late 1930s made annual trips to Tuckerman Ravine. A devout Catholic, at the outbreak of World War II Erling registered as a conscientious objector, but had a change of heart and volunteered for the 10th Mountain Division; he was wounded in Italy and was awarded the Bronze Star.

After the war, Erling taught skiing with Walter Prager at Dartmouth and supervised military mountaineering training at Camp Carson, Colo. He also returned to Norway to help his family rebuild its farm. He married Carolyn (Connie) Burke in 1955 (she died in 2002).

Erling was founder and president of the Watchung Amateur Ski Club and the New Jersey Ski Council. After moving to Vermont in 1952, he helped establish the racing programs at Pico, Vt. and served as director, treasurer and vice president of the Eastern Amateur Ski Association. Erling held a variety of accounting and managerial positions: Green Mountain Marble, Killington Wood Products, College of St. Joseph in Rutland, St. Joseph's College in Bennington, Sisters of St. Joseph, and Rutland Mental Health. He was a director of the Rutland Regional Chamber of Commerce (an interesting position for a lifelong socialist), and director, president and Paul Harris fellow of the Rutland Rotary Club.

Erling wrote countless newsletters for ski and Rotary Clubs. He shared his poems at 10th Mountain Division events. Tom Brokaw read one of his poems during the TV broadcast of the 2002 Winter Olympics. He was a contributing editor to Norway Times and Skiing Heritage. His column "Leaves from a Skiers' Journal" regularly appeared in the Rutland Mountain Times over three decades. After retirement, Erling devoted much of his time to writing, and published a memoir of his Norwegian and WWII experiences, "Hill Echoes."

Survivors include son Kevin and Sonja Scheffer and grandson Alex of Maryland; daughter Mari and Laura Olsen of Northfield; son Kristian and Laurel Omland, grandchildren Phoebe and Aron of Jericho; and beloved partner Ruth Fish of Rutland.

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