Skating choreographer made habit of giving back
Angeline Mateljan was still many years away from taking her husband Dusan Bezic’s name when she was a child in Huntsville, Ont., but she’d already found the other great love of her life.
“She was nuts about figure skating, my wife,” Bezic said over a phone call, laughing.
The two were married 63 years before Angeline passed away Dec. 27, 2014. She was 87.
“You should see the collection in my house,” Bezic, 91, said. “I have more than 1,300 pieces (of paraphernalia) dedicated to skating. It’s probably the single biggest collection in the world.”
A child of the Depression, Angeline didn’t get much chance to pursue her interest in figure skating, which was born out of watching the films of Sonja Henie, the three-time Olympic gold medallist from Norway. She met Dusan in Toronto in 1950 and they were married in 1951, her two great loves united.
Their children, daughter Sandra and son Val, both figure skated, to their parents’ delight. It was when the kids were competing — Sandra went on to become a legendary figure skating choreographer — that the family met Jim Proudfoot, the former Star sports columnist and the namesake of the sports department’s contribution to the Santa Fund.
“We met Jim Proudfoot, at that time our children were in figure skating and in1971, at their first Canadian championships. They attended the Canadian championship for five years,” Bezic said.
Angeline made a habit of donating money to Sportsmen’s Corner (now Proudfoot Corner), but always did so anonymously.
“She never wanted any publicity,” Bezic said.
“Jim knew it was coming from her and he’d write a word or two in his column in the Star but she asked not to be mentioned by name.”
As Sandra and Val competed, then as Sandra’s choreography career began to take off, Proudfoot was there and a strong bond built between him and the family.
“He was very good to the kids, he loved them and we loved him,” Bezic said.
“A few times he came to our home and we were friends right to the last minute (of Proudfoot’s life). My wife admired him and helped with the Santa Fund.”
When Angeline passed last year, the family channelled any donations that people wanted to make to the Star’s Santa Fund and Proudfoot Corner, along with the Runnymede Healthcare Centre, where Angeline received care over her final 41⁄ 2 years.
Many friends and family came together and donated $770 in her name.
Donations to the Corner help fund 45,000 gift boxes, each containing a cosy hat, mittens, socks and warm shirt, as well as a book, toy and candy for underprivileged children across Greater Toronto.
ON THE CORNER: Bob Green of Burlington steps on to the Corner for the first time in memory of his best bud of 50 years Brian “Shakey” Rundle. Bob and Brian held season tickets to the Argos, Rock and Battalion, and hunkered down in Brian’s rec room, a.k.a. Club 37, for all the big games. Brian passed away a couple years ago so Bob is making a double donation of $118.90, which is twice the price of Appleton’s Rum, Brian’s libation of choice.
Out of Ajax, Ed and Christine Dicksoncame back with $100. It was in memory of Ida Kronister, Peter Koch, and Mary and Lou Dickson from great grandchildren Emily, Ethan, Riley, Ben, Anna, Aidan and Abigail. In nearby Oshawa, Jack Wilson donated $100 in memory of his departed wife Jacquelyn.
The Spittel family, featured in last week’s story, donated $200 from Bobcaygeon in memory of late NHL coaching great Roger Neilson. Out of Bolton, Scott Sinclair also donated a nice chunk of change in memory of Neilson with his $500 cheque. Neilson taught phys-ed to Scott at Bayview Junior High before departing to coach the Peterborough Petes.
We have two Steves from Toronto with cheques for $250 each. Thank you to Messrs. Steve Lancaster and Steve Westren, both regulars, for their contributions. S. Ryan had $100 more for the kids.
Still in Hogtown, the ever-generous Patricia Scull sent us another $75. Mary Henderson donated $100, thanking us for our uplifting stories and solid reportage over the years via the likes of Proudfoot and Dave Perkins. Rick and Lorraine Matsumoto of Toronto kicked in another $200 as per usual. Rick, who was on the Argos beat for many years at the Star, makes his donation in memory of Proudfoot.
Heading west, two Mississaugans are back: Tony Manasterskydonated $1,000 in memory of his doublethreat dad Tom, who played for both the Alouettes and Canadiens. Nadia Vicente also returns with $150 in memory of Michael Kleine-Hermelink. In Etobicoke, Gordon Day has $250 for us. From Oakville, Bruce and Linn Caplan donated another $250. And from still closer to the head of the lake in Burlington comes John and Laura Zeagman’s $10.
Jim Eliopoulos of North York returns with $75 in memory of his son, Jays draft pick Jake, who left us too early in 2013. In nearby Brampton, Helen and Cec Bechamp remember their son Andre, who was “always helping others” with $100.
Ranging out into the hinterland, we have a thank you for John Prain of Alliston’s $50 in memory of grandson Kyle Fagan. Jean Seabrook of Lakefield sent us a C-note. Ivan Gunter of Bancroft sent his $50 in memory of Irene. And Proudfoot’s way-back public and high school classmate Joan Franklin sent us $25 from Orillia.
Finally, from Unionville, Bill and Carol Creber donated a dependable $100 in honour of granddaughters Emma, Hannah and Julianna Miller with wishes of much success.