Living Your Legacy

Posted by Tom Locke on June 11th, 2016 filed in History, Life, Sports ... All Sorts

Yesterday, many of us were saddened by the news of Gordie Howe’s passing at the age of 88.

I had the pleasure of seeing Gordie play several times at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.  The first time I saw him play was in 1957 – I was seven years old.  The Detroit Red Wings beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3 – 1 with the ‘veteran’ Howe scoring the winner.

In 1980, Howe’s last NHL year, I saw him team up with former Leaf captain, Dave Keon, and lead the Hartford Whalers to a victory over Toronto.

Howe didn’t ‘leave’ a Legacy. He ‘lived’ his Legacy.

“Many athletes think their legacy is what they did on the ice, the field, or the court” said Robb Lucy, author of ‘Legacies Aren’t Just For Dead People!’ .  “But Gordie knew it was his ability to stir the hearts of kids for the game of hockey, and show them they too could encourage with humour and class off the ice.”

Lucy goes on to say, “Gordie was an inspiration who connected people with his values of humour and sharing”… “I think Gordie celebrated more about what he could do off the ice … and that’s his real Legacy.”

It was Lucy’s last quote, highlighted above, that I could really relate to.  In 1985, via one of my clients, I had cause to have dinner with Gordie’s wife, Colleen, and then accompany her to a Vancouver Canuck game to meet up with Gordie who was doing a radio interview between periods.  After the interview we sat together and talked about the work he was doing with Emery Worldwide and a movie on him that was in the development stage.

During our time together, he asked about my family and how they were doing.  I confided in him that my mother was sick with cancer.  Without blinking an eye (a rarity if you know Gordie), he took a promotional picture of himself, asked me my Mom’s name and wrote:

“To Norma, Please get well soon.  Best always, Gordon Howe”

I framed and couriered the signed picture to my Mom.  The picture remained at her side until her passing the following year.

Looking at this picture today, I can’t help but think how fitting this gesture by Gordie was as it was “from one fighter to another”.  I hope my Mom gets a chance to thank Gordie for his thoughtfulness one day.

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