Saying good-bye to No. 3
Family and friends remember John Thomey of Harbour Grace
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.
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.”
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.”