SILVERTHORNE – Don Pascal is like a lot of Summit County’s seniors – always on the move.The Mesa Cortina man, a resident since 1996, is active in photography, Nordic and downhill skiing, bicycling, ice skating and kayaking. He’s a member of a book club and a dinner-and-a-movie club. He knits and cooks, referees hockey and serves on various committees with the Summit Seniors. He’s been on the board for Alpine Area Agency of Aging and the American Automobile Association – “but not AA,” he jokes.All this earned him Senior of the Year this year.Pascal – his friends call him “Pascal the Rascal” – grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and attended Brooklyn Polytech, majoring in chemistry. He then enlisted in the Army and worked at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland in research labs dealing with munitions ordnance.
After two years there, he returned to school to get his graduate and doctorate degrees. From there he would spend the next 40 years working for DuPont – “back when chemistry had nine letters, not being the four-letter word it is today,” he said – in the plastics and paints field.He has several patents to his name for his work in that field, one of them a paint that gives surface textures a metallic sheen.”They started on autos,” he said of the paint. “And then they thought of using them, of all places, on caskets. People wanted elaborate caskets. You could say my best ideas were buried.”Other patents included a finish placed on refrigerators to make them less resistant to staining; mustard is the worst. And he worked on a product called Corfam, a synthetic leather that failed to take the world by storm because the real leather industry merely kept lowering its prices, he said.Throughout his life, he skied, although he got a late start – in his late 20s – in the Poconos and Adirondacks.”I wanted to try something in the winter – even ice skating was indoors,” he said. “It seemed like something exciting, and I found out it was. When people say, ‘You’re going out in 10-below weather, it’s windy, it’s dangerous …’ I tell them skiing is the most fun you can have standing up.”
Skiing is how he met his wife, Peg, in 1980.A co-worker – a fairly unreliable one, at that – begged Pascal to take a day off and go skiing with her. He didn’t want to, but relented. The woman introduced him to Peg, and they hit it off, marrying in 1988.”I did her that favor and she repaid me,” Pascal said. “You cast your bread on the waters and it does return. It’s a rare day I decided to be a good guy.”The couple traveled frequently to Western ski resorts, but it wasn’t until 1996 that they took a summer vacation to Summit County. After eating in a Frisco restaurant, they ran into a real estate agent leaving her office, asked to see a couple of homes – and bought the first one they saw the next day. When he returned to work, he told his company that the next day would be his first day of retirement.”It was a gamble,” he said. “We had never been here. We agreed if we didn’t’ like it, if the elevation was too much, we’d move. But the old truism is true: People visit here in the winter to ski, but they stay here for the summers.”
They weren’t sure how they’d fit into a community where the average age of residents is in the mid-20s. Their real estate agent suggested they join the Summit Seniors – and their fate was sealed.He’s served as president of the executive council, helped attain the $1.3 million to build the new community and senior center, helped design the commemorative plaques for the building, helped design the senior Web site and monitored ice skating races for the Senior Winter games.That’s what he likes best about life in Summit County: the people and the vast array of opportunities.”The Seniors are enormously active,” Pascal said. “We’ve got lawyers, doctors – no Indian chiefs – a three-star general. It’s a wonderful group of people.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (70) 668-3998, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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