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Harry J. Loomis, co-founder of Kissing Bridge ski resort May 12, 1928 -- Jan. 20, 2012

Harry J. Loomis, the co-founder of Kissing Bridge ski resort, died Friday in Dunkirk after collision on Route 5 in the Town of Pomfret. He was 83.

Born in Colden, Mr. Loomis graduated from Amherst High School and went on to serve in the U.S. Navy.

He developed "a love of skiing and a dream to be in the snow business" ever since teaching himself how to ski on equipment he bought at Woolworth's decades ago for a couple of dollars, family members said.

He began as a ski patroller on Western New York slopes, and in the 1950s, he bought acreage in the wooded hillsides of Glenwood to restore an old log cabin, where he raised his family.

There, he charted his plans for his own ski area in partnership with brother-in-law Bob James. With start-up money totaling $100, the men acquired five parcels of land totaling 415 acres near Mr. Loomis' cabin.

By 1960, the lot was surrounded by a few ski trails Mr. Loomis cut.

Mr. Loomis named the ski area "Kissing Bridge" because he admired New England-style covered bridges with that nickname. Kissing Bridge, on the northeast slope of South Hill in Concord, was incorporated on March 30, 1960, and began operation in December of that year. There was a ski school, cafeteria and leased ski shop.

"He was known for 'old school' ski area management," family members said, explaining that Mr. Loomis loved to escape from his office and ski himself, talk with patrons, "serve free wine and cheese for no good reason," and loved his business.

Mr. Loomis also was a patent holder after inventing and patenting snowmaking technology for ski areas.

He is survived by his dear companion of many years, Donna Bleck; two sons,

Michael and Daniel; two daughters, Patricia Adams and Shari Safee; a brother, Edward F.; and two sisters, Helen James and Virginia Leutze.

A memorial service will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Amigone Funeral Home, 5200 Sheridan Drive, Amherst.