Pittsford – February 12, 2018.
Don Cushing passed unexpectedly, yet peacefully, surrounded by his loving family Monday, February 10, 2018. His wife, children and grandchildren along with his extended family, and his many, many friends accumulated over his long life of generous love and service to others will miss him more than it is possible to express.
Born in Rochester in 1928, Don spent his childhood engaged in outdoor activities many of which become some of his life’s passions – fishing, hunting, sledding, skiing and playing football. Don graduated from Monroe High School in 1946, where he met his future wife, Belle (Dutch) Haggett.
Upon graduation, Don took advantage of the GI Bill and attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute pursuing his love for engineering and graduating with a degree in electrical engineering. He spent summers training on Navy destroyers, aircraft carriers and submarines prior to his years of service during the Korean War.
Married after college to Dutch, Don’s high school sweetheart, their children Brad, Kim, and Grant soon completed the family. Don and Dutch built the family a modern home on a new Perinton tract; the house he’d call home for his entire life.
Don joined Eastman Kodak in 1954 as an engineer with a focus on designing some of the company’s first color photographic printing machines. He spent most of his 37 year career at Kodak in The Color Print and Processing Division where he ultimately became Director of Quality and Printing Systems for Kodak. Early in Don’s Kodak career he continued his education while working full-time, and earned his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Rochester.
Don had a second volunteer career on top of his Kodak career – one he continued into his retirement. Don was a US Alpine Ski Racing official for more than 45 years and devoted his time in the sport to mentoring other officials in the sport.
In the 1950’s and early 1960’s, Don took his young family skiing every weekend at Powder Mill Park. The family’s passion for skiing grew with each year, and the Cushing’s were among the original season passholders at Bristol Mountain as it opened in 1964. Before long, the kids caught the ski racing bug, and Don and Dutch caught the ski racing officiating bug; their winters were spent as a family enjoying the sport of ski competition throughout the Northeast.
Don helped establish the Bristol Mountain Race Club (BMRC) in 1965, with former Austrian National Ski Team members that staffed the Bristol Mountain Ski School as club coaches. BMRC was one of the first local race organizations in New York State and held club level race events sanctioned by the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA). Don also helped in establishing and organizing the state-wide organization – New York State Ski Racing Association (NYSRA). These race events and others like them across the state and nation represent the origin of sanctioned Alpine Ski Racing in North America.
Don focused his efforts on the technical development of the sport by installing timing and communication systems at Bristol and other ski areas in the region. In an effort to train other certified ski racing officials in the sport, Don turned his focus to developing alpine officials across the state by integrating the international rules and requirements of the International Ski Federation (FIS). This effort was – in part – designed to qualify local officials in hopes of NY State hosting of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid. To be awarded the games, the state had to demonstrate that it had capable officials who could support the International Olympic Committee staff that would be in charge of managing the games.
Don and a handful of others attained the level of FIS Technical Delegate which allowed them to officiate races at the highest level. Don worked the alpine events at the Olympic Games as a Start Referee alongside many other friends (including his wife Dutch) and cohorts and successfully executed the Lake Placid Games.
As a natural offshoot of their skiing and house-building passions, Don and his wife Dutch and the kids – over many years of long weekends, and blistered hands – finished building their second home – their quintessential trailside ski chalet in Killington, Vermont. The “Cushing Barn” became a favorite ski vacation spot for many Rochester families, and a much loved respite for many NY ski racing officials.
For more than 30 years following the Olympics, Don worked tirelessly throughout the New York and New England on alpine events helping drive the sport to the highest international levels. During these many years, Don had the opportunity and pleasure to work with skier friends and families over 3 generations – including his children and grandchildren who have spent endless hours on the slopes with their beloved Papa.
Don’s first wife, Dutch (a lifelong PE teacher in the Rush Henrietta school district) passed away in 1994 after a battle with cancer. Don retired early from Kodak to care for Dutch throughout her illness.
Several years later, Don met, and then married his second wife, Pat Turner. Pat became Don’s family’s second grandmother and Don’s faithful companion through a happy and active retirement. They were able to enjoy their friends and far-flung travels around the world. Don and Pat were devoted parishioners of the Church of the Transfiguration in Pittsford and spent countless hours nurturing the parish’s garden and other service efforts.
As time went by, Don found the energy to lovingly and devotedly care for Pat through her long journey with Alzheimer’s – until he could no longer provide the round-the-clock care she now requires. Since August of 2017, Don made it his priority to make sure Pat felt at home every day in her new home (The Rochester Friendly Home). Don and Pat could be found every day enjoying activities together at the Friendly Home, where Don traveled daily to pass the hours by her side.
Don was predeceased by his first wife, Belle H. Cushing and brother, Val Cushing (Alfred, NY). Survived by his 2nd wife, Patricia Cushing; children Brad M. (Debbie) Cushing, Kim M. (Mike) Nietopski, Grant W. (Gina) Cushing; grandchildren Tara (Jamie) Humphrey-Smith, Travis (Cicy) Humphrey, Leigh, Haley, Jay and Hannah Cushing; greatgrandchildren Gianna and Eli.
Calling hours will be held Friday, February 16, 2018 4-7 PM at the Richard H. Keenan Funeral Home, Egypt Location, (7501 Pittsford Palmyra Rd.). A Funeral Mass will be held Saturday, February 17, 2018, 10:30 AM at the Church of the Transfiguration 50 West Bloomfield Road, Pittsford, NY 14534. In lieu of flowers please spend time with your loved ones enjoying nature.