By Erika Steele, Contributing Writer
Southborough – It has been 30 years since Ilene and Robert Titus moved to Southborough, Ilene having relocated a stone’s throw east from Easthampton and her husband, Rob, from Long Island. However, their love for skiing was formulated long before settling in the Metrowest, a passion that is evident as long-tenured volunteers for The ACE Ski and Board Club.
“We like skiing because it is a fun activity we can do with each other and family and friends,” Rboth love the outdoors and, in addition to skiing, we camp, hike, bike, kayak, canoe and swim.”
The pair are benefits/tickets co-chairs of the club that was formed over 30 years ago. It started as the Digital Ski Club and, was then and continues to be now, completely run by volunteers like the Tituses. The Massachusetts-based club consists of skiers and riders throughout New England who enjoy finding their way down the slopes of New England, eastern and western U.S., Europe and beyond.
Originally formed by Rob and fellow employees of Digital Equipment Corporation, the club has evolved over the years into a self-supporting, standalone nonprofit corporation. It is work that pulls Ilene and Rob away from their normal jobs for about 60 hours a year, and they would not want it any other way.
Rob first became involved as a co-chair when the position became vacant.
“As Benefits co-chairs, we look for Vermont and New Hampshire bulk ticket sale deals with savings we can pass onto Club members,” he explained.
A lifetime skier, Rob started as a teenager under the direction and influence of his father, Bill Titus. As Rob’s skills flourished, the two were often found side by side, navigating the slopes at Hunter Mountain in New York as well as in Vermont, New Hampshire, Utah and Colorado.
“I can remember the first time my dad rented equipment he said it felt like putting your feet in cement and turning in cork screws,” recalled Rob, who has won medals on Nastar courses including a silver medal on a Deer Valley Nastar course three years ago. “After that he purchased skis, boots and poles for both of us.”
The gene evidently does not skip generations as his son, Rob Jr., took interest in skiing at the age of 3.
Ilene had a much different route to the slopes. While she first skied down the neighbor’s sloping backyard, her first true ski lesson was at Gunstock at age 38 – the same day and place when Rob Jr. was having his. After an effort to ski the now defunct Mount Tom Ski Area in Holyoke did not take, Ilene grew discouraged; however, when 3-year-old Rob Jr. took to the sport and proclaimed that the family would now ski together, she had no choice but to go along with his orders. Today the family continues to ski together alongside their two daughters and grandchildren.
“We now have a four month old great-grandson and are looking forward to his ski days with us,” Ilene said.
That same camaraderie inspires Ilene and Rob to continue their work with The ACE Ski and Board Club.
“The club is a social club and we like the people,” she noted. “It is very satisfying to be able to work on behalf of the club and its members. It is also challenging work and we both enjoy a good challenge!”
Looking to the future, the Tituses hope that the club continues as a viable social club that can benefit all its members. They also hope that their great-grandson will pick up the family tradition and strap in when he is old enough.