Obituary: Ski Patrol Inc. Cofounder, David Lawler

Ski Patrol Inc. Cofounder, David Lawler. J.D., died at 64 in April. Lawler grew up on a farm in Iowa, and that work ethic continued throughout his years of service as an attorney and through his volunteer efforts, where he passionately represented the interests of patrollers, farmers and consumers. David Lawler

Lawler was an attorney in private practice in Iowa, where he was admitted to practice law in 1975, and at the federal district level in 1978. In addition to his non-profit contributions at Ski Patrol Inc. and its publication, Lawler dedicated much of his time over the years as a volunteer to many worthy causes.

Lawler held a number of positions as an attorney during his 40 year legal career. He was the first full-time law clerk to judges in the Iowa District courts, including service to former Iowa Supreme Court Justice K. David Harris, a position that is now established and funded statewide. Later, Lawler worked 16 years for Iowa Legal Aid (f/k/a Legal Services Corporation of Iowa) in a special project providing legal assistance to farmers in financial trouble during the farm crisis of the mid-1980’s. In that capacity, he successfully argued the only reported case in which the Farmers Home Administration (USDA) had a judgment of foreclosure reversed. (U.S. v. Wiegman, 111 F.3rd 74 (8th Cir. 1997)).

He has also worked in private practice, doing criminal defense, family law, bankruptcy, and general tort litigation. In recent years, his practice concentrated in the area of consumer rights, working exclusively on behalf of consumers. This involved areas such as FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection), FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting), debt collection defense, mortgage defense and related areas. He was a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) and served as the NACA Iowa State Chairperson since 2006.

Lawler, originally from Clare and Fort Dodge, Iowa, moved to the Omaha/Council Bluffs area in 1982, where he joined the NSP Rocky Mountain Division’s Mt. Crescent Ski Area Patrol. A member of the National Ski Patrol (NSP) since that time, and a well-respected member of the NSP’s Rocky Mountain Division, Lawler did his initial training at the former Winter World Ski Patrol in Humboldt, Iowa. He qualified as a Basic Patroller at the end of the 1982-83 season. Lawler also served as a ski instructor at Mt. Crescent ski school where he received his PSIA Instructor certification in the late 80s. He served as a member of the NSP and PSIA organizations for 33 years. His last participation was leading a module in a Southern New York Region NSP OEC refresher this past season.

In the early 1990’s, Lawler became the senior ski school instructor and Race Director at Mt Crescent. During that time, he managed races and visited the area off season to ensure proper operation of all on-hill wiring required for racing, maintaining the equipment at his own expense. In 1992, Lawler was qualified as an NSP Instructor to teach NSP’s Outdoor Emergency Care first aid course. He maintained that qualification throughout his NSP career and actively participated in the Mt. Crescent Patrol’s OEC program over the years. In 1996, Lawler qualified as an NSP Senior Patroller and Senior Instructor/Evaluator, and from 1996 through 2010 he served the Mt. Crescent Patrol as Scheduling Officer. He also put in countless pro bono hours working behind the scenes, advocating for patrollers and for proper governance of ski patrol organizations throughout the US.

Lawler attended St. Matthews School in Clare, and graduated from St. Edmond High School in 1968. He graduated from Benedictine College (Atchison, KS) in 1972, Summa cum Laude, with a B.A. in History and a Minor in Latin. He then attended the University of Iowa, College of Law, and graduated with a J.D. in 1975, With Distinction. Lawler, a lifelong learner, had enrolled in a local part-time MBA program in recent years. He was admitted to practice law in Iowa, by examination, on June 12, 1975. He was admitted to practice in the US District Court for the Northern District of Iowa in 1978, the Southern District of Iowa in 1989 and the US Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1996. While in law school, Lawler was on the staff of the Iowa Law Review.

He was preceded in death by his parents, David J. Sr. and Irene (Meyers) Lawler. Lawler is survived by his siblings, Ellen (Jack) Cottrell, of Fort Dodge, Rev. Bruce Lawler, of Larchwood, Iowa and Marcia (Pete) Cooper, of Lee’s Summit, Mo.; and 5 nieces and nephews, Carl Cottrell and Marianne Stepanian, of Watertown, Mass., Carrie and Matt Becker, of Las Vegas, Nev., Will and Lea Petrie, of Kansas City, Mo., Teresa and Jason Satchell, of Overland Park, Kan., and Katherine Petrie, of Lee’s Summit, Mo.

Lawler, like many patrollers, preferred to avoid the negative political aspects of patrolling and advocated for returning to a focus on the NSP’s original mission of skier and rider safety, and offering competent assistance to those that have been injured. His friendship and competent counsel will be sorely missed by his colleagues here and at the other ski patrol organizations that he was associated with, and certainly by family, friends, clients and anyone with whom he worked closely over the years. A memorial service was held in Clare, Iowa in late April.

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