1931 – 2019
After 55 years of active patrolling, George Felis passed away on June 19, 2019 following an eight month struggle with organ failures resulting from a systemic infection subsequent to a minor medical procedure. We know George is now effortlessly skiing the “white smoke” of the Wasatch, always with crisp temperatures and blue bird skies.
George was extremely proud of his heritage and was born in 1931 of Greek and Turkish immigrant parents in Salt Lake City and remained an active member of the Greek Orthodox Church. He was a graduate of Westminster College and was on their ski team, as well as graduate of the University of Utah where he also taught skiing. George served in the U.S. Navy (1951-1955) aboard the USS Point Cruz and USS Jupiter during the Korean War.
Following his military service, George found himself in California where he met the love of his life, Gloria Tannlund, and they were married in 1964. He was engaged in the electronics industry for many years, as well as other enterprises.
It was also in 1964 that George joined the NSP patrol at Snow Summit (Far West Division) and quickly attained Senior Alpine Patroller status. In 1973, George and Gloria moved their family to Salt Lake City and he immediately signed-on with the Brighton Ski Patrol (Intermountain Division), where he remained, serving with distinction for 45 more years. “George of the Jungle”, as he oft reminded us, was a cheerful soul, with never a cross word about anyone. That’s not to say that we didn’t know when he thought something was askew! His influence was deep within the patrol and always presented in a positive manner.
George focused his leadership in becoming a Red Cross First Aid and CPR Instructor, Patrol Historian and Awards Advisor in 1977, roles he faithfully fulfilled until his illness sapped his strength in the Fall of 2018. George was one of the first to create a longstanding and supportive relationship with new candidates during their training. At the same time, he gathered their personal history and that of transfers to Brighton, creating a page in the “Book of George”. George kept the patrol history, but more importantly, he prompted for the preparation of awards at most appropriate times. The Brighton Patrol was prolific in preparing award nominations and tremendously successful through his tenure, having received innumerable individual awards and twice named National Outstanding Large Alpine Patrol (1988 and 2016).
George was elected Volunteer Patrol Director at Brighton in 1980. He further transitioned to WEC/OEC Instructor, Senior OEC Trainer/Evaluator and Brighton CPR Training Advisor, serving to the end with the commitment and dedication of the stellar team member that he was.
The NSP honored George with National Appointment #5099 in 1977 and the Distinguished Service Award in 1994. He was also selected to serve as a SL2002 Winter Olympic Volunteer.
George is survived by his wife of 54 years, Gloria; their children, Melissa (Edgar Webster) and Peter (Klistia); grandchildren, Alexis, Zach, Cole, and Halle; and deeply respectful members of the Brighton Ski Patrol.