USA Water Ski & Wake Sports

Official Logo

2020 Obituaries

In Memoriam – Ralph Armstrong, 1938-2020 

Ralph Armstrong, a longtime member of the American Water Ski Association and USA Water Ski & Wake Sports, and one of the sport’s most decorated tournament drivers, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 4, with his family by his side in Destin, Fla. He was 82.

His involvement in water skiing spanned more than 50 years. He started his career as an accomplished water skier and driver in the 1950s, taking part in one of the first Tommy Bartlett Water Ski Shows in Wisconsin Dells. He later stopped skiing and shifted his focus to becoming a great boat driver. He built his own ski boat in the 1960s and took it to every local tournament to pull skiers and traveled the region pulling skiers at tournaments in Tennessee, Louisiana and Texas.  With the advent of the professional towboat program, Armstrong sold his man-made boat, purchased a MasterCraft and entered the promotional boat program. For the next half century, he dedicated his driving talents, advice and expertise to the sport.  

His competitive career includes many distinguished years as a driver in major water ski events. He was selected as a driver for numerous world and national events, including Junior World Championships, World Games, Elite World Championships, Pan American Games, U.S. National Championships and the U.S. Open.  He was Chief Driver at Elite World Championships and numerous Pan American Championships. He was heavily involved in the adaptive water ski program, serving as a driver at the Disabled World Championships in Australia and numerous U.S. Disabled Water Ski National Championships. 

He was a four-time recipient of the Fred Wiley Award for Most Outstanding Driver at the U.S. Water Ski National Championships. In 2008, upon his retirement from driving, he was awarded Senior Driver Emeritus status by the American Water Ski Association board of directors. 

He was inducted into the USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation’s Water Ski Hall of Fame as an Award of Distinction recipient in 2017.

In Memoriam – Jim Boyette, 1927-2020

James Bee Boyette, 92, who had competed in every U.S. Barefoot Water Ski National Championships for 41 consecutive years until 2019, passed away in Orlando, Fla., on July 19, 2020. He was born in Tampa, Florida on November 18. 1927. James is survived by his children Billie Joe Boyette, Rickey Duke and Darrell Duke; his grandchildren Heather Rhyne, Bethany Duke, Douglas Duke, and Rickey Duke Jr; his Great Grandchildren Alice Rhyne and Chance Duke, and his Niece Hallie Boyette. 

In Memoriam – Jim McCormick, 1944-2020

Jim McCormick, who was involved in water skiing for more than 50 years as a competitor, coach, innovator, and pioneer died on June 20. He was 75 years old. Jim coached some of the sport's greatest athletes, including Sammy Duvall, Wayne Grimditch, Mike Hazelwood, Bob LaPoint, Kris LaPoint, Nicholas Le Forestier, Patrice Martin, Karin Roberge, Ron Scarpa, Don Thompson, and Christie Weir, just to name a few. He also coached junior and elite teams from Belgium, France, Canada, Germany, Japan, Sweden, and the United States. He helped design slalom skis with Cypress Gardens; and worked with Correct Craft on R&D for new boats. 
 
Having created the first man-made ski school lake in the United States, he made the three-lake ski site available for numerous major tournaments, including the Pan American Water Ski Championships and several U.S. water ski team trials. On one of the lakes, he opened a cable park in 2008.

Jim was the first to incorporate video into ski school training and made several innovations - such as grooves and top beveled edges as well as shorter skis - in the construction of trick skis. 

Because Jim's competitive career was cut short by a knee injury in 1958, he decided to begin concentrating on coaching. He moved from his native Missouri to Florida in 1967 so that he could coach full-time. 

Jim had four sons: Jimmy, Michael, Daniel and Patrick, who set records that still stand today. Finally, he played a major role in developing the skills of his Hall of Fame brother, Ricky, who was one of the best skiers in the world during his heyday.  Jim was given the USA Water Ski Foundation's Award of Distinction in 1997 and its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

In Memoriam – George Everett Tracy, 1950-2020

George Everett Tracy, age 69, of Vero Beach, Fla., passed away unexpectedly, Saturday, June 20, 2020. George was the owner and operator of George Tracy Plumbing, Inc. He was a member of Port St. Lucie Ski Club and Ski Club of the Palm Beaches. George enjoyed line dancing, singing and playing his guitar. He is survived by his daughters, Candee Zicari and Natalee Tracy; grandson, Kyle Zicari; and sister, Bonnie Alberga. 

In Memoriam – Dr. Tom Strong, 1945-2020

Dr. Tom Strong, the longtime water ski coach at the University of Alabama, passed away on Thursday, May 28. He was 74 years old. Beloved by students, alumni and colleagues throughout the nation, Dr. “Tom” Strong offered extraordinary care and support for students throughout his stellar 38-year career at the University of Alabama. He earned two degrees from UA, including a master’s degree in guidance and student personnel, and a doctoral degree in educational administration and planning. Strong’s exemplary service included terms as the Dean of Students and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs. 

He provided administrative leadership for an extensive list of areas on campus. Student Recreation, Greek Life, Orientation, Student Media, Community Service, Residential Communities, the Career Center, the Counseling Center, the On Call Dean Program, Disabled Student Services, Veterans Student Services, International Student and Scholar Services, Graduate Student Services, and Parent and Family Programs are only a sampling of offices that benefited from his counsel and support. 

Credited as a steadfast friend to students and an example for all, his establishment of the Crimson Care program and the former Learning Skills Center demonstrated his loyalty to assisting members of the UA family. Strong is a long-time supporter of Crimson Tide athletics. He wrote the initial proposal for a women’s athletic program and served as the first director. He founded the UA water ski team. His contributions to the University will continue to have a lasting and significant impact on students of UA’s past, present and future.

In Memoriam – Gordon Hall, 1957-2020

It is with great sadness that the family of Robert “Gordon” Hall II of Martindale, Texas announces his passing on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, at the age of 62. Gordon will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 38 years, Barbara Hall; son Robert “Bobby” Gordon Hall III, his wife Katy and their child Robert Gordon Hall IV; son Steven Christopher Hall; brother Howard Hall, his wife Karin and their children Hayden, Hannah and Megan; sister Holley Dean, her husband Chris and their children Abbey and Libbey; and many cherished aunts, cousins, and friends. Gordon is preceded in death by parents Robert Gordon Hall and Harriett Elizabeth Hall, originally of Sedalia, Missouri, and brother Stuart Arthur Hall.

Gordon was born on Sept. 18, 1957 in Houston, Texas. He earned a Bachelor of Engineering Management with Honors in 1979 followed by a Master of Business Administration with Honors in 1981 from the University of Texas in Austin. Equipped with his CPA license, which he earned in 1986, and a keen business sense, Gordon enjoyed a long career as a successful entrepreneur and developer of world-class water ski communities across the state of Texas. More than just communities, he developed enduring friendships in all his adventures. 

After being raised in the Houston area where he developed a passion for water sports, Gordon became co-founder and president of the University of Texas water ski team in 1976. He was a highly awarded competitive water skier for 46 years, becoming a regional record holder, national champion, and international podium finisher multiple years, as well as being the 2019 Men 6 national tricks champion. Gordon was the current chairman of the board of the American Water Ski Association as well as recent senior tournament judge and host of multiple regional and national championships. Gordon found the most joy throughout his life spending time with his family sharing activities that they loved.

In Memoriam - William "Bill" Edward Kosloske, 1938-2020

William "Bill" Edward Kosloske age 81, passed away peacefully January 31, 2020 at American Orchards Memory Care in Mesa, AZ surrounded by family members.
Bill and Connie raised their sports active family in Rock City, Illinois and later retired in Mesa, AZ. Bill was a brilliant second-generation entrepreneur, designing forward thinking self-funded health insurance plans. Bill and Connie worked side by side for 38 years founding the successful HPA, Inc.; later joined by their son who carried his legacy forward, serving millions of customers. Bill was an avid sportsman including water skiing, hunting, golf and cards.

Ahead of his time in many fields, he built his own 17-acre tournament ski lake, skeet range in their woods, and catfish farm all on their 40 acre home property. Between Bill plowing snow off the lake for a hockey rink, a pool and ping pong table, hoops, lake golf, poker games, and gatherings after Dakota H.S. sports our house was always filled with friends and family. Active in the A.W.S.A. since 1956, Bill was a National, International and Pro water ski judge serving on many committees. Bill, Connie, Karen and Mike were competition water skiers and ski title holders. Bill and Connie’s combined interest took them all over the world, enjoying every day. A mentor to his friends and family; encouraging daughter Karen, Education Therapist, founder of atap-eduTM and Camp GeniusTM, and author to pursue her dreams of innovative education; and his son Michael who changed the ‘mom pop” family business to a nationwide NASDAQ record breaking success. Bill was proud of his family and loved them deeply. We are forever blessed to have shared our life with him.

Bill is survived by Connie Kosloske, his beloved wife of 58 years, his children Karen (Kosloske) Schoeben M.Ed.SPEC, Michael (Lori) Kosloske; grandchildren Mary, Nick, Erika, Tyler, Calle, Averi, Jole’ and Cash, and great grandchildren Amari, Zayla and Olive. Bill is predeceased by his parents Leslie and Stella Kosloske.

In Memoriam - David Paul Goode, 1955-2020

David Paul Goode, founder and president of Ogden-based GOODE Ski Technologies, died Wednesday, January 15, 2020, while taking part in one of his many passions, piloting his airplane. Dave had a distinguished career in both the snow and water ski industries as a creative innovator of carbon-based products that brought cutting-edge advancements to both sports.

Dave was raised in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., where he attended Andover High School, graduating in 1973. At age 19, Dave achieved his dream of joining the U.S. Ski Team. After suffering a serious ankle injury, Dave focused his energy on design improvements to snow ski products and founded his first company, SAC, a ski accessory company. He soon received his first patent, the first of twenty in his lifetime, for the Racer Spacer and began traveling around the country selling his products from his van, selling over one million units in the first year. He next began working on improvements to ski poles, where his design concepts and use of advanced materials revolutionized the product. Today, GOODE ski poles continue to hold a third of the retail market and half of the rental market.

Dave then combined what he learned in the snow ski industry with his passion for water skiing to introduce the world’s first carbon-fiber water ski. Within a few years of entering the market, Dave’s skis held both the Men’s and Women’s world slalom records, and have held a world record continuously for over 20 years. A sponsor of water ski events and athletes around the world, Dave and his company have been a consistent influence in, and supporter of, the sport. While serving as the title sponsor of the GOODE U.S. Water Ski National Championships for over 20 years, GOODE water skis have won more national slalom titles than all other manufacturers combined.

In 1999, Dave married the love of his life, Dawn Itin, and in 2004, they moved GOODE Ski Technologies to Ogden, Utah, where they set about expanding the company. Dave and Dawn immediately immersed themselves in the community, helping to transform Ogden into the outdoor industry hub that it is today.

A 2014 USA Water Ski Hall of Fame Award Distinction recipient, and a member of the Michigan Water Ski Hall of Fame, Dave was an accomplished international competitor in both water skiing and snow skiing, most recently winning the downhill event at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Alpine Masters National Speed Series, and a bronze medal in trick skiing at the Senior Pan American Water Ski Championships.

A quick friend and generous mentor, Dave will be remembered for his kindness and endless support to many.

Dave is survived by his beloved wife, Dawn, his parents Paul and Mimi Goode, one sister; Barb Drndak (John), his children Michael David Goode and Lisa Goode McHugh (John), his stepchildren Whitney Hebard Felkl (Hans) and Gregory Robert Hebard (Adrianna), and his granddaughters Maple Julia McHugh and Sunny Elizabeth Hebard, with a new addition on its way.