My best friend Jack (John) Padelsky passed away unexpectedly at his home in Sunny Slopes on January 9, 2018 at the age of 69. Interestingly (amazingly) in late December Jack had the sense of a foreshortened future that he shared with the Lutheran Pastor Kenton Puls. He began going to church and was happy to feel connected with his faith again.
Jack was born in Minersville, Pennsylvania where he graduated high school at Minersville Area High School in 1967. While his parents were busy with the restaurant he developed a love for horses and showed in horseshow events.
In 1972 Jack moved to Powder Mountain Ski area in Ogden, Utah and worked as a ski lift mechanic and snow cat equipment operator. He loved the remoteness of the resort but three years later decided to move to a bigger ski area and moved to Park City, Utah.
Jack and I (Londie Padelsky) met at Park City Ski Area in 1980 and we have been soul mates ever since. He worked on lift maintenance and I was a cashier in the cafeteria and a part time photographer. Our first date he invited me for an evening snow mobile ride and took me all over the mountain. I was too embarrassed to tell him I had recently bruised my tailbone from falling off a mechanical bull. Every bump blasted my butt but I continued to smile because Jack was so thrilled to show me the high mountain scenery. When he showed me his little fortress hidden in the trees by one of the old mines way up on the mountain, I knew right then that we had a lot in common and would be together and I moved in shortly thereafter. Jack was the overseer of that part of the mountain. It was somewhat secluded. In the winter we had to take a snowmobile to get to the house. Over the years went cross country skiing and hiked all over the mountain from right outside our door. We loved it. Jack enjoyed skiing at Park City. I loved watching him weave down the slopes, as he was such a graceful skier. Ice hockey was his passion. He loved going to Salt Lake City to play with his buddies on the lift maintenance ice hockey team. Every spring he had six weeks off work. Jack loved the ocean as he did the mountains. He traveled to Fiji, we went to Tahiti and explored all over the Southwest and back East.
We married in 1982 and moved to Mammoth Lakes the following year when Jack was hired by Heimo Ladinig to work lift maintenance at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort. Soon after, he became a lift maintenance supervisor. Jack took great pride in always having a high standard of maintenance on lifts. He was proud to be a part of the crew that built the biggest development of ski lifts during what he considered, “the best of the McCoy era” in Mammoth. Jack retired in 2012. He always enjoyed telling stories about the exciting and dangerous tasks endured on the mountain with the maintenance guys like climbing towers in freezing cold temperatures to chip ice off the sheaves before the ski resort could even open.
Jack’s greatest love was for his horses, dogs and the Sierra Nevada backcountry. When we moved to Mammoth it was a chance for us to go back to our family roots. We bought a couple horses and mules and headed out into the wilderness every weekend for years. Often times we went with our close friend and old time packer, Gus Weber along with his family of mules and dogs. One of Jack’s favorite places was Jackson Meadow. He loved fishing in the streams and lakes and taking care of his stock. He was one of the best backcountry cooks ever. Whenever I returned from photographing he would have a beautiful, hot meal waiting. He also enjoyed sharing those trips with his buddies. Jacks dogs meant everything to him. Over the years he had Salina, then Gus and then Andy. Andy was a yellow Lab and was Jack’s all time hero. Next came Digger and more recently Johnny and Jake. Jake being a feral dog that Jack diligently trained to become a loyal loving pal. He also loved my dog, Buddy and took care of him often when I was away.
Jack was forever experimenting with recipes for jerky, smoked fish and month long dry-aged beef. It was always fun to taste his latest version. He loved to cook up a pot of beans, Borscht or split pea soup. He was always ready to feed whoever might drop by.
Jack whole-heartedly appreciated his friendships with his childhood friends in Minersville and the lift maintenance crews in Park City and Mammoth Mountain. He loved his old time packer friend Gus Weber, his neighborhood friends and after his retirement his bond with his camping buddies Brian, Deric and especially Jim.
Although he has passed from this world, he continues to inspire, to delight, to add richness to the lives of those who have known and loved him. Jack leaves behind friends who will miss him and horses and dogs that will look for him. Londie, wife and partner of 38 years will think of him often along with Londie’s parents, Roy and Dolly Garcia, family Janet, Debbie, Heidi, Ronnie, in-laws and extended children. From Pennsylvania, his sister Carol Jenkins; nieces, Karen and Lori Jenkins and great niece and nephew, Ava and Quentin. He loved his mom and dad, John and Sara Padelsky who preceded him in death.
There are many local folks that remember honking as they drove past Jack feeding his mule and buckskin horse in the pasture along Highway 395 near McGee. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 19, 2018, the week before Mule Days in Bishop, his favorite event. Location and details will be announced closer to the date.
“Going to the mountains, is going home”
– John Muir
Jack… I’ll meet you there…and I’ll bring the dogs!
– Londie G. Padelsky