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William R. ‘Wittso’ Witte

December 10, 2015
Lake Placid News

Mr. William R. "Wittso" Witte, 83, of Lake Placid, passed away on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015.

Born in West Orange, New Jersey, on Jan. 28, 1932, William was the son of the late Charles and Ruth (Romyns) Witte.

He received his education after high school when his parents allowed him to hitchhike the existing 48 states. He accomplished this by the age of 19 and sent a weekly postcard home. It was a troubling time as the family had lost his older brother Norman of the 10th Mountain Division, during the war in Italy.

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William decided not to join the family business his father started in Newark, New Jersey manufacturing wristwatch pieces. Much to his father's disappointment he headed to the mountains of Vermont. Bromley Mountain was the start of his "Ski Bum" career as an instructor by day and dishwasher by night. He loved every minute of it.

Next stop was Snow Ridge Ski Area in Turin. He was recruited as a top notch ski instructor along with Rudi Kuersteiner and Otto Frei. William was enjoying this town and opened his own "Swiss Ski Shop" and a motel.

To offset the frequent 2-foot dumps of snow and some well below zero temps, William's summers were spent on Upper Saranac Lake managing the waterfront and teaching water skiing at the Wawbeek resort.

Opportunities arose and William was offered a job with Sport Obermeyer taking him back to Vermont and running the Eastern warehouse in Killington.

After a stint of importing very expensive bicycles in Vermont ended, his true calling as an independent sales rep for upstate New York and western Pennsylvania began. He notably represented and or pioneered more than 10 companies including K-2, Smartwool, Turtle Fur, Smith Sport Optics, Crocs, YakTrax, 1st Team, Hard Corp skiwear, Giro Helmets, Ibex, and Horny Toad.

Wittso was a mentor to many in the ski world. He counseled countless sales reps, shop owners and skiers by sharing his passion for the sport. His relationships with customers and fellow reps were the oil that kept his wheels spinning. He is one of the founding fathers of EWSRA (Eastern Winter Sport Reps Association) which allows those in the ski industry to do their business in a professional trade show setting.

William is survived by his wife Cheley; one son, Douglas of Boston, Massachusetts; two step-sons: Adrian Cieri and companion Sarah Keyes of Lake Placid and Bear Cieri and wife Kate of Williston, Vermont; two grandchildren: Olivia and Griffin Cieri; his mother-in-law Dorothy Modliszewski; two brothers-in-law: Robert Modliszewski and Richard and wife Donna Modliszewski; his sister-in-law June and husband Alan Belmont; several nieces and nephews and many close friends.

The family would like to extend its gratitude to the AMC-Lake Placid staff, the volunteer ambulance service and the amazing EMTs for giving such caring treatment to William.

Please join with us on New Year's Day, 2016 at 2 p.m. to celebrate this wonderful man at Nicola's on Main, 2617 Main St., Lake Placid.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to New York Ski Education Foundation (NYSEF), PO Box 300, Wilmington, NY 12997. Please Note: The Bill Witte Scholarship Fund.

Relatives and friends are invited to share a memory or story, download a photo, or leave online condolences at



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