Obituary: Shawn Orloff

Posted at 8:44 AM, Dec 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-21 10:44:47-05

Shawn Orloff, 44, died in Big Sky, MT on November 18, 2021. He was born in Miami, FL and grew up in Beverly, MA. He graduated high school from St. John’s Prep in Danvers, MA, attended Syracuse University in NY, and graduated college from the University of Montana in Missoula. Surviving family includes his mother, Sally Norris of Bozeman, MT; father, Michael Orloff of Dover, FL; wife, Noelle Orloff of Bozeman, MT; and several aunts, uncles, and cousins. He was employed by Big Sky Resort in Big Sky, MT.

Shawn was a Massachusetts guy at heart. When he was young, he explored and skied the Northeast with family and friends, laying the groundwork for his future career. He spent time on the water with family and learned to sail, and his enthusiasm for being on the water would carry through his life. He often credited growing up near the ocean for his affinity for wild places and open spaces.

Life on the east coast shaped him in other ways. He went on Grateful Dead tour and became a lifelong deadhead (to remember him, try listening to “Liberty” on repeat or any show from May 1977). One of his talents was baking. Shawn learned to bake an apple pie from memory when he worked at an apple orchard and through the years impressed many with his perfect pie crust. He qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon. He developed an interest in American history and politics, often saying, “if it wasn’t for Massachusetts, we’d still be a British colony.” And of course, he was a Red Sox fan.

After moving to Montana and graduating college, Shawn went on to make skiing into his career. He was a ski patroller at Big Sky Ski Resort and Moonlight Basin for fourteen years. Skiing and working on Lone Mountain every day was a dream come true. He had the opportunity to work at other ski hills in his life; places like Treble Cone in Wanaka, New Zealand; Jackson Hole in Jackson, WY; Teton Pass in Choteau, MT; and Montana Snowbowl in Missoula.

Skiing was more than a job for Shawn. He loved to ski, and he loved and found kinship in the culture and people in that world. Shawn made friends around the world in adventures near and far. Whether we skied with him once or hundreds of times, we have memories of laughter, adventure, and camaraderie.

Shawn’s affinity for adventure and the outdoors extended beyond the ski hill. He worked on wildland fire crews like the Lolo Hot Shots and the Gallatin Rappel Crew, and he worked on several trail construction crews for the US Forest Service and Montana Conservation Corps. He was drawn to boats and fishing and being on the water and sharing those experiences with friends and family or heading out solo. Over the years he explored many places, but he would return again and again to his favorites like the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Yellowstone National Park, Missouri Breaks National Monument, and the Florida Everglades.

There is so much more to say about Shawn and the life he lived and the impact he had on us - let’s keep telling his story to each other. We miss him. Right now, the landscape feels empty since he is gone from this world, but we know we will carry his memory with us for the rest of our lives.

Memorial service information will be announced in the coming weeks.

If you would like to make a charitable donation in Shawn’s memory here are some suggestions:

Support for those at risk of suicide:

Bozeman Help Center ( [])

Organizations Shawn found important in his life and donated to regularly:

National Public Radio ( [])

The Jimmy Fund ( [])

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation (

or a favorite local animal shelter.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. []