William E. Preston

William Edward Preston died in his sleep on Feb. 6, 2024 after suffering a traumatic fall 10 days earlier. His wife of 46 years, Frances Preston, was able to ensure that his last days were as pleasant and comfortable as possible, and for that his family is eternally grateful.

Known as Bill to his friends, and Billy to his family, he leaves a legacy of family and good friends centered around his passion for skiing and farming.

Bill took up skiing as a boy in Montreal, Quebec, and the “bug” led to a career as a ski instructor, ski rep, ski racer and ski school director. His teaching and racing took him all over eastern Canada and the eastern U.S.

In the 1950s, while he was teaching at Mt. Snow in southern Vermont, Bill met his first wife, Catherine. Together they had three children: Robert Richardson Preston, James Edward Preston and Victoria Preston Crawford.

Bill had his children on skis before they have a memory of even doing so, and the love and passion for the sport he instilled in them remains strong in his surviving children, Jamie and Vic, and his two granddaughters, Parker Clare Crawford and Sonja Johnson Preston. To say that the Preston family culture is skiing is an understatement, and even after Bill stopped skiing himself, he loved to be regaled with tales of his family’s adventures on snow.

Bill married Frances, known to all as Franny, in May 1977 and they moved to Churubusco in 1978, where Bill lived until his death. In the Malone area, he is probably best remembered as the ski school director at Titus Mountain in the ’80s and ’90s. Bill was a local icon who taught and coached untold numbers of skiers, from beginners to experts. He also started the racing program at Titus and for many years was the head coach of the Titus Ski Team. You can find skiers from coast to coast who will talk not only about his distinct style on the hill, but the impact he had on them as individuals.

In addition to skiing, Bill was an avid and excellent golfer and tennis player, and he passed the love of those sports on to his children. His other passion was farming, and for 10 years he and Franny raised purebred Jerseys as dairy replacements.

Bill also loved gardening, and while he would sometimes bemoan the time he spent maintaining his property in Churubusco, he truly loved every hour he spent tending his vegetable and flower gardens, working with his chainsaw, or on his tractor or mower. If Bill could get outside, he would, and all the better if the sun was shining brightly!

Bill was born on Dec. 6, 1933 in Hamilton, Ontario, the only child of William Edward Preston and Helen Johnson Preston. He grew up in Montreal and graduated from Hampstead High School. He is survived by his wife, Franny, his children, Jamie (Park City, Utah) and Victoria (Telluride, Colorado), their spouses, Susan Preston and Eric Crawford, and his granddaughters, Parker and Sonja. They will miss his kindness and big heart.

There will be no funeral, but prayers are always welcome.

Bill’s love of skiing and family were almost matched by his love of animals — particularly dogs, and especially bernese mountain dogs. Those wishing to remember Bill are invited to make a donation to the Tri-Lakes Humane Society in Saranac Lake.

We will hold a celebration of Bill’s life later this spring or summer when the sky is blue and the sun is warm.