Just over a week ago, a room that we had come to know as high school kids at the Legion in my home town gathered for what truly was a celebration of the life of Willie Davis, a pal since I was about eight years old when I moved into a new neighbourhood.
Willie was boisterous, yet a gentle soul away from the rink or sports field, yet he inflicted a few bruises on me, nothing too serious, trying to bring him down in high school football practice or getting hit by him in minor hockey.
It can get maudlin when talking about the passing of a friend, especially to those who don’t know him, so I’ll leave it there, but other Willie stories were swapped in the crowded Legion room among those who had decades of stories to share that day.
If you know my home town, it is on the surface these days a typical bedroom community of Toronto, but behind the facade of condos, malls and housing developments are many of my vintage who still reside here and remember when farm fields surrounded it instead of subdivisions.
Even some who don’t live in the general vicinity made it back for such an occasion and those even farther afield were at least aware of Willie’s passing through the e-mailing and social media efforts of another pal, Kurt Weisser, who, like Willie, has a hard shell but a soft inside.
As difficult as it was to accept the passing of Willie just before his 60th birthday, this gathering at the Legion did help soften the blow with the stories swapped that illustrated that he would remain with us.
Family and professional commitments often get in the way of such gatherings, but it is comforting, especially as my vintage passes the 60-year mark of our lives, to be a part of a community that is more about soul than the physical appearance of the town where we arguably grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Just over a week after the gathering at the Legion came word that Craig Marseilles had passed away for the same reason as Willie, who was just a year older than Craig, who I didn’t know as well, but had met enough over the years to know that all the tributes to him that ensued were all true.
A few of those tributes are in the GNN comments section on the home page and many of them are scattered across Twitter and Facebook.
A memorial service will be held Thursday for Craig. For more, click here.
Over the next few days, there will be plenty of Craig stories swapped, likely a lot of laughs to help ease the sting of this loss to the golf community, many of them told by Brian McCann, who saw him just last week before Craig’s passing.
McCann told a few beauties in this interview I did with him on Sunday.
Of course, many of the Craig stories will be generated out of Southern Ontario, where Craig spent his career, both as a touring pro and a club professional, much of it at the National in Woodbridge, but such sentiment is not exclusive to that region.
A few recent examples include Lorie Kane talking about what the legendary Jack McLaughlin meant to her just after she was announced as a 2016 inductee into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. You can listen to that interview here.
Another Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member, Richard Zokol, offered some thoughts about the late Dan Halldorson here and fond memories of former Vancouver Sun golf writer Arv Olson, who died last fall, here.
It’s traditional to say something nice about the deceased, but the comments voiced by everybody above, came from life experiences each person cherished. They didn’t just say the right thing when somebody was gone, but rather, they lived it and shared it with the person during a life well lived.
I’ve never been a big fan of the term “networking,” although I do get what it means. Naturally, we want to discuss business, what’s working and what isn’t and other matters, when we gather, but it’s been my experience that many we “network” with are more than just colleagues, particularly in golf.
These days, we have our challenges in maintaining a sound business either for ourselves and others and many of us face changing roles within our chosen profession that we don’t necessarily like.
Such matters are time-consuming and that, along with time for our families, which is also important, mean we have less time than we used to to forge friendships such as the one between McCann and Marseilles and the other examples mentioned.
I recently read a poll that said Canadians are very nervous about their finances in the run-up to the federal budget that came down on Tuesday afternoon and I’m sure that there are many in the ever-evolving golf industry who feel the same way.
Yet, a profession is about more than finances. It’s what we’ll spend a good chunk of our lives doing. We often hear that those in the golf industry didn’t want to sit in a cubicle doing a 9-to-5 job (are there any of those left anymore?).
Golf is something they want to do, but there’s more to it than the game itself. The people who inhabit clubhouses, golf shops, fairways and greens offer a magnificent support system even in the most trying times.
Business is about dollars and cents, but beyond the cold, hard cash is a motivating factor called friendship. Somewhere in there is the perfect balance.
Judging by examples we’ve seen recently, mentors and friends are a positive influence in your life, which keeps them going long after they’re gone.