As he sits in front of his brand new painting titled “Going Up River,” 95-year-old Frank Walter says water — both flowing and frozen — has always been at the center of his life.
Born in 1922, Walter remembers water skiing as a child on Lake Winnipesaukee in Laconia, New Hampshire. He remembers his father wrapping leather around slabs of spare wood to help him ski atop a Northeast winter’s “hard water” in the family’s suburban-Boston backyard.
“I grew up a mile from the ocean,” Walter said, “and my family was very active in many ways and it always involved water — hard or soft.”
If Walter gets his way, the Copper Mountain resident of 29 years will have skied the hard stuff for more than nine decades.
“My objective is to ski when I am 100,” he said. “And, the good lord willing, I can do it.”
It was nearly nine decades ago when Walter’s father and mother first helped him board that pair of ragtag skis at the age of nine. Their destinations included that snow-covered North Quincy backyard and the neighborhood golf courses.
“It wasn’t as great of a passion or even a wayward thing to enjoy back then,” Walter recalled Nov. 9 while seated at Timberline Adult Day Services in Frisco, with the sound of his Boston accent still clear all these years later. “But even so, my parents skied when all they had was a piece of wood and a little bit of leather going over your foot.”
When Walter skis this season — he hopes to hit Copper’s blue runs in December — it’ll be a far cry from those first experiences with his family. And when he, for the second straight year, pushed the button at 9 a.m. Nov. 10 to ceremonially start the first chair up Copper, his ski getup was also much different. Up until last year, he was in that first chair.
These days there is no leather wrapped around Walter’s shoes. Rather, he brandishes a vibrant yellow ski jacket, one that has a number across its back. And it’s one that changes every year.
On the eve of Copper’s open, “No. 95” was already set to go on Thursday at Timberline as he stood alongside one of his ski buddies, a neighbor who also serves as a caregiver and physical therapist:…