David Lawrence Carto

August 05, 1930 ‒ April 04, 2021

Mansfield, Ohio

Renowned Mansfield entrepreneur and local icon of the skiing community, David Lawrence Carto passed away following an extended illness on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021, surrounded by his loving and devoted family in his Mansfield home. He was 90.

David was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on August 5, 1930, second son to the late Willis F. and Louise A. Carto. His family moved to Mansfield, Ohio in 1942, which remained his hometown for the rest of his life. Upon graduation from Mansfield Senior High School in 1948, David attended Ohio Wesleyan University, where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He graduated in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Following graduation, he was employed by Westinghouse in Mansfield and was transferred for a short time to St. Louis. In April of 1954 he was drafted into the United States Army, where he served in the Counter-Intelligence Corps. On September 18, 1954, David married Frances Eleanor Draffan, and in 1956, while stationed in St. Paul, Minnesota, Dave and Frannie had their first son.

Upon his honorable discharge from the Army in 1956, David began his illustrious career in business and community service. He went to work in the advertising department for the Ohio Brass Company at their Mansfield headquarters, eventually becoming employment manager in the personnel division and assistant vice-president in the sales department. But it was his love for the sport of skiing, which he had acquired during his Army stints in Wisconsin and Minnesota, that became the catalyst for his true calling. Upon returning to Mansfield, he formed the Mansfield Ski Club, a group of friends who got together on weekends to ski on a hill in Knox County with a home-made rope tow. In August, 1961, he joined a group of Columbus investors with a plan to build the first commercial ski area in Ohio. The group bought a dairy farm in the Possum Run valley south of Mansfield, converted the bank barn into a ski lodge, installed four rope tows on the hill and created a snowmaking system. In December, 1961, Snow Trails opened to the public, at the time the first and only ski area operation relying entirely on man-made snow, as well as the southernmost ski area in the country. Today, Snow Trails Winter Resort is a bustling and thriving mecca for skiing, snowboarding and snow-tubing enthusiasts, not to mention a unique and popular venue for après ski food and beverages, musical entertainment, weddings and all sorts of public and private gatherings.

David’s entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen carried Snow Trails through tough times in the early years. Disagreements among the early investors led to his appointment as the president of the company in its first year of operations. While handling the business of the ski area operations, David continued to work for Ohio Brass until 1964. After that he formed not-so-successful start-up enterprises in home security and pre-computer learning devices. All the while, through creative financing and personal risk, he led Snow Trails in continuous improvements and expansion. By 1970 he had acquired sole ownership of Ohio Ski Slopes, Inc., and Snow Trails was his full-time career. Today, Snow Trails is the only family-owned and operated ski resort remaining in Ohio. David’s daughter, Amy Crislip, has managed the ski shop since 1982, while her husband, Scott, is the president and general manager of Snow Trails. Grandsons Dave Carto, Andy Crislip and Matt Crislip manage various departments of the ski area operations, while David’s eldest son, Duffy Carto, oversees the junior alpine ski racing program.

David became well-known in the ski industry and was deeply involved in its growth in the United States. He founded the Ohio Conference of Ski Area Operators and was a director of the National Ski Area Association (NSAA) and the Midwest Ski Area Association. He was the recipient of the NSAA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. He was instrumental in enacting ski area liability legislation and was a charter member of the Ohio Ski Tramway Board.

As if he was not busy enough running a ski area and raising a family of four children, David was heavily involved in service to the community and his country. He served two terms as president of the Mansfield/Richland Convention and Visitors Bureau, board chair of the Mansfield-Richland Chamber of Commerce (recipient of the 1997 Chairman’s Award), chair of the Area Action Council of the National Federation of Independent Business, board president and trustee of the Ohio State University/Mansfield campus, president of the Kiwanis Club of Mansfield, board trustee and president of the Rehabilitation Service of North Central Ohio (named honorary lifetime trustee in 1999), board trustee and president of the Richland Carrousel Park, board trustee and chair of the Richland County Foundation, board trustee and treasurer of MedCentral Health System Foundation, trustee of the North Central State College Foundation (inducted into the Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame in 2011) and advisory board member of the Ashland University John Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs (named Emeritus Member in 2015). Dave was also an active and dedicated participant in local, state and federal politics, both as a member of the Richland County Republican Party Executive Committee and as a host of political fundraisers at all levels. Whether at his home on Ballylin Farm or at Snow Trails, David included among his guests such political luminaries as John Ashbrook, Dan Quayle, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Phil Gramm, Mike Dewine and George Voinovich.

In addition to his business, charitable and political associations, David enjoyed the fellowship and faith of his church, First Congregational Church, and his many friends and colleagues at Westbrook Country Club, Hermit Club, Fifty-one Club and Our Club.

In July, 2003, David married Audrey Pirgo Schmitt, who survives him. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Frances Draffan Carto, his parents, Willis F. and Louise A. Carto, and brother Willis A. Carto. He is also survived by his sons and daughter, David D. “Duffy” Carto (Carolyn), Thomas J. Carto (Laurie), Amy C. Crislip (Scott) and Steven T. “Terry” Carto; grandchildren, David W. Carto, Anne D. Carto, Andrew Crislip, Matthew Crislip, Connor Carto and Samuel Carto; step-children, Corbin Schmitt (Amy), Valerie Adkin, Eric Schmitt, Michael Schmitt (Kim); step-grandchildren Erin Schmitt, Heather Schmitt, Kyle Schmitt, Lindsey Wall (Sean), Parker Schmitt and Mandi Schmitt; step-great-grandchildren Reed Wall, Georgia Wall, Walker Wall, Teddy Schmitt, Gus Schmitt and Ozzy Schmitt.

The Carto family will receive guests on Thursday, April 8, 2021 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Finefrock Chapel of the Marion Avenue Snyder Funeral Home, 350 Marion Avenue. A service, giving glory to God for the life of David L. Carto, will be held Friday, April 9, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. in First Congregational Church, 640 Millsboro Road, with Pastor Bruce Haapalainen officiating. Burial  will follow in Mansfield Memorial Park, where the Richland County Joint Veterans Burial Detail will offer military honors.

The family would like to express their heartfelt thanks to David’s caregivers from Freedom Caregivers and to his hospice nurses from Southern Hospice Care, and in particular to Jackie, Michelle, Tashia and Liz. The family asks that memorial contributions in David’s name be made to Catalyst Life Services, Richland County Foundation or the Ashbrook Center, and may be made at the funeral home.

Snyder Funeral Homes is honored to serve the Carto family. Share a message of support with them online at: SnyderFuneralHomes.com

  • It’s obvious Uncle Dave will be very much missed by his family and friends. Prayers aplenty to all…may he rest in peace. – Jeff Draffan

  • Iconic greatness
    Balance in the things that matter most
    How does one honor such an extraordinary life of generosity
    Gone but not forgotten

  • To All My Carto Family,
    It was an honor & priviledge to work for a man who shared a common passion for skiing and the entire ski industry back in the 70’s and 80’s. Whenever our paths crossed, Dave always gave me a loving smile and warm “Hello”.
    My friend for over 50 years~ you will be greatly missed but never forgotten!
    With sympathy,
    Bruce Baker

  • Dave was truly a one-of-a-kind man. Successful, but compassionate. A pillar of society, yet he took the time for people like me. He’s the one who talked me into the Snow Trails’ Ski Queen contest and the bikini race. We are so blessed to have his ski resort dream right in our own back yard. Praying that the timing of his death on the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior will bring comfort to his family. Praying for all of you.

  • To my dear Carto ski family and good friends,

    I am thankful for the rare gift of knowing Dave, and with countless others being able to say, what a kind and influential mentor he was for me all my life! … I treasure his friendship and will do my best to honor his memory by making the effort to pay forward.

    Sincere condolences, and genuine wish for many moments with good and joyful memories of Dave to be ever present in our beloved shared places which he helped to create and enhance.

    Praise God for David L. Carto and all he gave to our community through his leadership and generosity. We are especially thankful for his vision and love for family and skiing.

    With gratitude and sympathy in the loss of someone so dear,

  • Please allow me to express my heartfelt condolences on behalf of The Ohio State University and especially the Mansfield campus. More than a decade ago, I had the honor to represent the faculty on the Ohio State Mansfield Board when Mr. Carto served as Chair, and he had clearly earned the highest respect and admiration of everyone involved. I am deeply grateful for Mr. Carto’s extraordinary contributions to this region and its communities. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time.

  • To all my Carto family,

    At the age of 11, Snow Trails became my winter playground. Working the information desk was my first job. The many friends & relationships I cherish so dearly today exist because of the vision and passion Dave had in bringing skiing to Ohio! Thank you Dave for creating this place we call “home” in the winter! Such an extraordinary life…well lived and loved by many! We will surely miss him! But his legacy lives on!
    With heartfelt love and sympathy,
    Laurie Baker

  • Dave may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. I can’t think of anyone who brought more families together than Dave Carto, and his Snow Trails. He gave so many great memories to my family, and I’m sure thousands of others. It is odd that the day before Easter two of my adult children and I watched an old family movie of the Ski Carnival,
    and Dave was their handing out awards to the competitors. Great Memories! His contributions to our community set a high bar for others who follow.

    My condolences to the family, and I know his legacy will continue in good hands.


  • It was an honor and a privilege to know such a great man. He will be missed. The family will be in my thoughts and prayers. Betsy

  • Dave was a true visionary and willing to take a risk on something that no one else would. He took a risk on me along time ago and it developed into a career that I will never forget. As my time at Snow Trails wines down I hope he knows how grateful I am. You Will be truly missed but never forgotten by so many. My sincere condolences to the family.

  • To the Carto Family:

    Please accept our condolences on the passing of Mr. Carto. He was a courteous, handsome man who was always kind to us.

    A special ‘thank you’ to Audrey as you were a wonderful friend to my mother, Lois. She loved your company greatly.

    Please know that you are all in our thoughts.

    Kindest personal regards.

    Mike & Jerry Byrne
    Puerto Plata – Dominican Republic

  • What an amazing life and legacy! Heartfelt sympathies and prayers for comfort and peace to the family from your friends at the Martin Center for the Arts at ETSU.

  • To the Carto Family,
    Please accept our sympathies and prayers for the passing of David.
    The Ron Nelson Family

  • Our deepest condolences to the Carto family. Dave will be sorely missed by the community he served and the many families who appreciated his foresight in the developing skiing industry. Mansfield would be a much different place without his contributions.

  • Wow, what a great man, so many great accomplishments, so kind, many many people have been blessed by what he has built. May God bless the family in this time of morning you were fortunate to have such a great man in Dave. I will miss seeing him around the resort.

  • Dear Audrey and Family,

    I am so very sorry for the the loss of Dave. I do send my condolences and love to all. Prayers for the Family. God bless, and hold on to the fabulous memories that I am sure you have.


  • Dear Duffy, Tom, Amy and Steve..and Audrey and family,
    We send our sympathy to all of you at this sad time.
    We enjoyed our chats with Dave when at Sea Colony and now we know why we did not see him down there very often. He was enjoying his busy life in Ohio at Snow Trails and contributing his talents to the ski world ….as well as the business world in Ohio.
    “A happy man is a busy man.” You must be so proud of him and feel so blessed to have had him in your lives.
    We hope you will come to know “Sorrow is not forever. Love is”.
    God Bless all.
    Dave and Bonnie Thelen and family.

  • My condolences to the Carto family. I have been on snow trails ski patrol for many years and served as a host this year. I have never met David Carto but his legacy at snow trails is obvious by the many happy faces who enjoy skiing and tubing.
    Best Regards
    Kevin Zehe

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