BANGOR – Paul Schipper, 85, of Carrabassett Valley, died on Feb. 16, at Veterans’ Rehabilitation Center. Also known as “The Ironman of Skiing,” he was widely covered in the media for his 24-year skiing streak at Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley, where he skied every day that Sugarloaf was open from 1981 until 2005.

He was born on Feb. 23, 1923, in Detroit, Mich., to Marie and Jay Edward Schipper. He graduated from Pleasantville (N.Y.) High School and attended Syracuse University for two years before enrolling in the U.S. Air Force, where he became a lieutenant colonel before retiring.

He then became a commercial airline pilot and was a captain with Eastern Airlines before a terrible near-tragic take-off in 1961 when the strut of his plane collapsed and caused a fiery crash. He had to dive out of the plane, causing his chest to collapse and subsequently he had several heart surgeries. Luckily there were no passengers aboard at the time, as the plane was headed for another airport to pick up passengers.

He then moved to Maine, where he became a Registered Maine Guide and part owner of Kibby Kamp, a classic Maine sporting camp north of Eustis, where he spent many happy days fly fishing with his many friends and family members.

He was most known for his skiing ‘streak’ which began in 1981 at age 57, and continued through 2005, when he was 81. He skied every single day that Sugarloaf was open for 3,903 consecutive days. Because his story became more and more appealing to the media and the public as he skied through bouts of cancer, pneumonia, near blindness in one eye, and a trip as far as Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to see his son graduate from culinary school, he became a nationally renowned media celebrity.

His story was featured in the media across the country, including the Boston Globe, the New York Times, People Magazine (two times), Good Morning America on ABC TV nationally. He received fan mail from admirers the world around as he inspired people to rise to their personal challenges and stick with their personal pursuits, despite physical and mental obstacles. Sugarloaf named a trail in his honor on April 4, 2005, by calling a section of the famous Narrow Gauge Trail “Schipper’s Streak.”

He is survived by his wife, Christine, of Carrabassett Valley; his daughter, Kibby, of Wellington, Fla., his son, Jeff, and his wife, Lori, of Caribou.

He will be dearly missed, not only by his family but by his many friends who cared for him deeply. He was a tough guy who had a tender heart. He loved to have fun and would always surround himself with young people who also enjoyed skiing, fishing, good food and lots of laughs.

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