Gilbert Mather Harrison | whitefish pilot


Gilbert Mather Harrison peacefully ended his 77th birthday on March 28, 2022, at his home in Whitefish, Montana. Although Gil was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, his heart and soul were soon transplanted to the mountains of the Northwest.

Gil moved with his family to Whitefish at the age of 7, graduating from WHS in 1962. His passion for skiing started so early that he could not remember NOT being able to ski! He raced for the Whitefish Ski Team throughout high school and repeatedly earned his spot on the National Junior Ski Team, despite breaking his leg twice during that time.

During his college years, Gil raced with the UC Boulder Ski Team, under great coaches including Bob Beattie. He then graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in Chinese and Oriental philosophy.

From this point on, Gil’s life became more experience-oriented than career-oriented. Over the years, he was employed in the restaurant industry, then spent time with the forest service, immersed in silviculture, wood management and firefighting, while honing his game skills. Cards. He has practiced auto and equipment mechanics over the years, keeping his own farm machinery and cars in good working order.

Whenever Gil was near a ski hill, he spent his winters as a ski patroller, serving with patrols on Big Mountain, Snowbowl in Missoula, and Antelope Butte, Wyoming.

During the 1970s, Gil developed a love for ranching working on his Aunt Mary’s ranch in the mountains west of Sheridan, Wyoming, where he had moved with his sister Jane and brother-in-law, Steve Kohler. While in Wyoming, he reconnected with his former classmate, Ruth Zander, and they later married. They returned to Montana in the 1980s, where they spent the next 20 years managing Gil’s mother’s hay ranch in Lost Prairie. Their two sons, David and Michael, were born around this time, bringing immeasurable joy to their lives. In addition to tending the farm, Gil worked for Montana Academy, where he developed lasting bonds with many of the teenagers who enrolled there. He also reconnected with the skiing community, volunteering at the Big Mountain Ski Club teaching the next generation of skiers, including his two boys.

Gil remained a passionate scholar throughout his life, throwing himself wholeheartedly into an eclectic quest for knowledge. After retiring from hay farming, he took additional Mandarin Chinese lessons, studied his own family genealogy (tracing some of his ancestry back to the 1400s), continued to consult the Book of I Ching (which, according to his brother John, he had memorized), and pursued his interest in meditation and martial arts, most recently Tai Chi.

Gil was predeceased by his father, John S. Harrison; his mother, Ann Schwartz; his father-in-law, Stephen Schwartz and his brother-in-law, Steve Kohler. He is survived by his wife, Ruth; his sons, David and Michael; his sisters, Peri (Tim) Shea and Jane Kohler; his brother, John L. (Bunny) Harrison, and his half-sisters, Anne Collins and Georgie Pakradooni, as well as myriad nieces, nephews and in-laws, dear friends and ski buddies, who will be remembered all from Gil with affection and he will be dearly missed.

At Gil’s request, there will be no memorial service. In lieu of sending flowers, those wishing to commemorate Gil’s life may either plant a tree in his honor or make a donation to our nonprofit Big Mountain Ski Club, PO Box 1614, Whitefish, MT 59937.


Comments are closed.