David ("Dave") Edward Kuhnert
David ("Dave") Edward Kuhnert, age 78, passed away on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at Southwest Vermont Medical Center, surrounded by his wife of 56 years, Ginny Kuhnert, and their three children. He was born in Syracuse, New York, on July 23, 1941, to Lester and Anne Kuhnert, the oldest of two sons.
Dave turned 78 this summer, but up until last year, he could out-ski men half his age. And he would have been the first to tell you so. He was first introduced to skiing by family friends in the tight-knit community of Dewitt, NY, where he grew up. When he reflected on his childhood, he often talked about the adults—parents of friends and his Boy Scout leader—who exposed him to his life-long passions of hiking, camping, and skiing. He felt deep gratitude to these neighbors and mentors who shaped his life in many ways.
After graduating from Jamesville-Dewitt High School, he attended Allegheny College in western Pennsylvania. He met his future wife, Ginny, during freshman orientation. Dave loved to tell the story of the day he first set eyes on Ginny in the college cafeteria, when he announced to his football buddies that he was going to sit next to "her." And that's what he did. The two dated throughout college and were married the week after graduation, in 1963, in a backyard ceremony at Ginny's parents' home in Great Neck, NY.
Dave and Ginny spent their first few years of marriage in Spangdahlem, Germany, where Dave was stationed in the Air Force. They returned to the U.S. in 1966 and lived briefly in Oklahoma and Boston before settling in HoHoKus, New Jersey, where they raised their three children, Jim, Bill, and Suzanne. Dave, being the "people person" that he was, made a career in executive public relations, working for a number of companies in the tri-state area, while continuing his service in the Air Force reserve earning the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was proud to be an area recruiter for the Air Force Academy, and during Desert Storm he worked in Manhattan for the Secretary of the Air Force where he played a significant role in planning the 1991 Ticker Tape Parade on Broadway.
He was a devoted father who, from the moment his children were old enough to strap on a pair of skis or carry a backpack, brought them on weekend adventures in the Catskills and Adirondacks. He would have told you that it was because he wanted to do these things himself. But the truth is, the far easier thing would have been to leave his kids at home. Instead, he got everyone up early in the morning to begin the two-hour trek to the ski slopes or even further north to Lake Eaton, NY, where he loved to camp, fish and hike.
After retirement, Dave and Ginny moved to Wilmington, Vermont, where Dave began a second career as a ski instructor at Haystack Mountain and, for the past many years, Mount Snow. Anyone who had the opportunity to ski with Dave or simply talk with him about skiing, knows that skiing was his greatest passion. He loved everything about it: discovering new techniques, seeing someone improve their own technique by making one simple adjustment "that changed the whole thing," and the feeling and freedom of being on skis. But when we once asked him what he enjoyed most about the sport, his eyes lit up as he said: "That you can always get better."
Dave also loved the friends he made on the ski hill, namely, the community of ski instructors at Mount Snow. He was also devoted to his tennis group that met at Apple Hill in the summer. He was a prolific woodcarver who created and shared, over the past three decades, hundreds of caricatures, with a special affinity for Santa Claus. He also loved playing the piano, boating on Harriman Reservoir, and spending time with his six grandchildren.
As you can imagine, Dave had a larger-than-life presence and has left behind a giant void in our lives. Even though he wasn't a person who outwardly showed his emotions, his love for his family was deeply felt. He was always there for us when we needed him, and it's hard to imagine life without his steady, upbeat presence.
Dave loved to tell stories, about his own life and the people he met along the way. Even though he was quite a talker, there are many things he never shared with us in words that we learned just by watching the way he lived. He was a teacher. And we will carry his lessons with us for a long, long time. Here are a few that come to mind:
There are rarely "poor conditions" for skiing. As with everything else in life, Dave made the most of whatever Mother Nature doled out. As family members, our biggest treat was tagging along with him on a ski day, where he knew everyone in a blue instructor jacket and they knew him. You just had to be prepared for a ski lesson or two along the way.
Make the most of the situation. Dave had a low tolerance for whining. He'd be the first to tell you if he was unhappy about something, but he didn't dwell on it. He looked for a positive spin and got on with things.
If you want to do something, get up and do it. Dave didn't wait around. He loved meeting up with his tennis group or a friend on the ski hill. But if no one was available, he'd head out on his own.
You can always get better. Skiing wasn't the only thing Dave worked hard at. Over the years he carved hundreds of wooden caricatures and put in countless hours on the piano. He went to woodcarving workshops and found advanced piano lessons on YouTube. He loved challenging himself, problem solving, and finding a better way to do something the next time around.
Be interested in life. Dave was curious; he loved to learn, meet new people, and discover new things. During a time of life when many people slow down, Dave got more involved. After Dave and Ginny moved to Vermont, he joined the tennis group, helped publish several editions of the Deerfield Valley Uncovered calendar, served on the Wilmington Design Review Board, and became an avid kayaker.
When you can no longer do the thing you love, find something else. When he decided to put away the kayak for good (something he loved to do during his early years in Vermont), he bought a motorboat. When it became harder and harder to spend time on the ski hill, he focused on improving his carving and piano technique. And most recently, as he became less mobile, he re-discovered a childhood interest in stamp collecting. He spent more time thinking about what he "could do" than what he couldn't.
At his request, because he wasn't much of a funeral-goer himself, we will not be holding a public service. To honor his memory our best guess is that he'd suggest grabbing your skis and making a day of it. Or consider making a Memorial Contribution to the Mount Snow Adaptive Ski Program at www.adaptiveatsnow.org, as this was to be his next adventure.
To send the family personal condolences, please visit www.sheafuneralhomes.com.