Say­ing good-bye to No. 3

Fam­ily and friends re­mem­ber John Thomey of Har­bour Grace

The Compass - - OPINION - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

If you ask the peo­ple close to the late John Thomey, they would tell you he loved sports. The for­mer CeeBees star had a pas­sion for ev­ery­thing that in­volved com­pe­ti­tion.

“He was a beau­ti­ful skater,” said Lil­lian Thomey, his wife.

Whether it was hockey, soc­cer or curl­ing, John loved the com­pe­ti­tion that came with play­ing. He reached the pin­na­cle in 1960 as a mem­ber of the CeeBees’ team that cap­tured the Herder Me­mo­rial Tro­phy. John played de­fence.

“He was one of the few lo­cals who made the team,” said fel­low CeeBees leg­end Joe Hunt.

John passed away on Nov. 10. He was 82.

Al­though Hunt never played with John, he re­mem­bers watch­ing him as young lad at the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace.

John wore No. 3 and played de­fence along­side the ven­er­a­ble Ge­orge Faulkner on the first CeeBees team to win the cov­eted Herder Me­mo­rial Tro­phy.

“He told me lots of sto­ries,” said his son, Paul.

He was known for play­ing a hard style of hockey.

“Dad was an ag­gres­sive player,” said Paul. “He kept you hon­est.”

Car­bon­ear res­i­dent Jim Pen­ney played left wing with John on that CeeBees team. He re­mem­bers John as a sturdy, stay-at-home de­fence­man on the ice and “one of the boys” off the ice.

“We al­ways had a joke and al­ways car­ry­ing on,” said Jim, his voice light­ing up at the mem­ory.

John never stopped lov­ing hockey. When the CeeBees re­turned to ac­tion in the 1990s, it was a pas­sion of his to go to the games.

“When­ever there was a game, dad would be up to my house maybe an hour-and-a-half be­fore wait­ing for me, ‘Are we go­ing to the game or what?’” said Paul.

HIGH­WAYS

Tough to play against

Be­fore Jim and John shared the ice as team­mates, they were ri­vals in the Con­cep­tion Bay North Se­nior Hockey League. Jim played for the Car­bon­ear squad, while John toiled with Har­bour Grace.

Jim re­mem­bers John be­ing a thorn in his side as a player.

“He’d drive you,” he said. “He’d get un­der your skin.”

Loved to coach

There was another side of sports that John en­joyed just as much as play­ing. Paul fondly re­mem­bers his fa­ther’s love for coach­ing the game.

“He ab­so­lutely adored the kids. It was one of his joys,” Paul noted.

John took a keen in­ter­est in help­ing one of his grand­chil­dren, Matthew Thomey, in his hockey ex­ploits. Matthew starred with the Univer­sity of Yale and would later go on to shine with the CeeBee Stars, the mod­ern in­car­na­tion of his grand­fa­ther’s team.

John loved watch­ing Matthew play hockey, said Paul.

“More than you could imag­ine,” he said.

John used to run prac­tices in the morn­ings for Matthew’s team. Paul re­mem­bers his fa­ther wak­ing his son up at the crack of dawn with the sof t rap of a h ocke y stick on Matthew’s bed­room win­dow.

A won­der­ful man

Away from the rink, John was “vi­brant and hard work­ing,” ac­cord­ing to Paul.

“He was one of the best,” said Lil­lian. “He was a fan­tas­tic fa­ther and hus­band. “He was a won­der­ful man.” John joined the navy when he was 17, with the goal of be­ing an ocean me­chanic. How­ever, a year into his tour, his mother got sick and he was forced to aban­don that goal.

Af­ter that he went to work at the first bowl­ing al­leys in the re­gion as a me­chanic, be­fore spend­ing the next 40 years of his life as the head engi­neer with Ocean Har­vesters.

“Did he ever en­joy his life,” said Lil­lian.

She said her hus­band loved to fish and play cards as well as ice fish.

“He built his own boat in the 80s,” said Paul. “He loved the out­doors and he loved his fam­ily.”

Fan­tas­tic re­la­tion­ship

Paul re­mem­bers fondly the re­la­tion­ship he had with his fa­ther. Paul and John shared many of the same in­ter­ests.

“Any work that I needed done around my house, dad was al­ways there to give me a hand, es­pe­cially af­ter he re­tired, and I was the same with him,” said Paul.

Paul has many mem­o­ries of his fa­ther and he’ll al­ways re­mem­ber one thing: “I al­ways en­joyed lis­ten­ing to his sto­ries.”

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