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"PIN" 2003 Obituary


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PINCKNEY o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-04-21 published
The soul of Canadian basketball
The coach who led national teams to Olympics, world championships, was a well-loved motivator on and off the court
By James CHRISTIE Monday, April 21, 2003 - Page R5
Jack DONOHUE knew how to win. His underdog Canadian basketball teams won games against National Basketball Association-bound superstars -- and Mr. DONOHUE won every heart he touched.
The former national basketball coach and famed motivator was arguably the most beloved figure in Canadian amateur and Olympic sport. Mr. DONOHUE died Wednesday in Ottawa after a battle with cancer. He was 71.
With his trademark New York Irish accent and gift for telling inspirational and humorous stories, Mr. DONOHUE was the soul of basketball in Canada for almost two decades and led the national team to three Olympic Games and three world championship tournaments.
His great players included a high schooler in New York named Lew ALCINDOR (later Kareem ABDUL- JABBAR;) Canadian centres Bill WENNINGTON and Mike SMREK, who went on to get National Basketball Association championship rings with Chicago and Los Angeles respectively Leo RAUTINS, a first-round draft pick of Philadelphia 76ers in 1983; guards Eli PASQUALE and Jay TRIANO, who is now assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors.
"For all he's done for basketball in this country -- not just with the national team, but with clinics and all his public speaking he should get the Order of Canada," Mr. TRIANO said.
Under Mr. DONOHUE, Canadian teams stayed among the top six in the world for 18 years. Canada finished fourth at the 1976 Montreal and 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and claimed gold at the 1983 World University Games in Edmonton. In the process they beat a team of U.S. college talents that included future National Basketball Association stars Charles BARKLEY, Karl MALONE, Kevin WILLIS, Ed PINCKNEY and Johnny DAWKINS. The monumental win over the United States came in the semi-final. The gold medal match was just as much a stunner, as Canada beat a Yugoslavian team built with members of the world championship squad.
Globe and Mail columnist Trent FRAYNE recorded how the loquacious Mr. DONOHUE had steered the Canucks to the improbable triumph, making them believe in themselves:
"You've got to appreciate how much talent you have," Jack would say, hunkering down beside a centre or a guard or, every now and then, an unwary newshound (Jack is ready for anybody). "You are unique. Think about that: there's nobody else in the world like you. If you want to be happy, try to make other people happy. Hey, if you want to be loved, you must love others. The way to improve is to do something you have never done. Don't be afraid of your emotions. Let 'em all hang out. Emotions are your generator. The intellect is the governor...."
And now, in the seventh month of July, it has all come about just as Jack promised. On Saturday night in Edmonton, his players, Jack's Guys, hoisted him upon their shoulders, and, for once, Jack's jaw was still. Blue eyes blinking rapidly behind silver-rimmed spectacles, white hair tousled, Jack put the scissors to that final strand and held the net aloft.
Coaching was a passion, not so much for the trophies, but for the human victories, personal challenges and little triumphs.
"I remember my father coming home tired and dirty every night. That's not for me. I love what I'm doing, so it doesn't seem like work and never will," he said.
Since retiring as national coach in 1988, Mr. DONOHUE has been the darling of the motivational speakers' circuit. In that regard, Mr. DONOHUE never quit being The Coach. He urged captains of industry to get the most out of themselves and build teamwork among employees as he did his players.
Often, Mr. DONOHUE told them to find opportunity even in the midst of problems: "It's all a matter of attitude. A guy leaves the house wearing his new, expensive suit for the first time, trips and falls in a puddle. He can get up and curse; or he can get up and check his pockets to see if he caught any fish, " he said in an interview with The Globe and Mail before the Los Angeles Olympics.
Mr. DONOHUE, who was born June 4, 1931, received a bachelor's degree in economics at New York's Fordham University and a master of arts in health education before serving with the U.S. Army in the Korean War. He began teaching in American high schools in 1954 and eventually wound up at New York's Power Memorial Academy, where he coached Mr. ABDUL- JABBAR and amassed a 163-30 record.
He later moved up to Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts., before taking the reins of the Canadian program -- at first coaching both the men's and women's teams. Mr. DONOHUE was inducted into the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. He is also in the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, and was awarded a Canada 125 medal by the Governor-General.
When the National Basketball Association expanded north into Canada in 1995, Mr. DONOHUE became director of international public relations and director of Canadian player development for the Vancouver Grizzlies.
One of Mr. DONOHUE's proudest times in basketball came when Mr. TRIANO followed in his path as a national coach. At the 2000 Olympics, Canada -- with Steve NASH and Todd MacCULLOCH -- finished with a 5-2 record, defeating mighty Yugoslavia once again, as it had in 1983.
"We talked about everything from how to guard guys on the perimeter to dying. I think he's at peace with it," Mr. TRIANO said of his mentor at a recent Raptor practice.
"He taught with humour," Mr. TRIANO said of Mr. DONOHUE's coaching style. "We learned a lot because we were laughing all the time."
A colourful broadcaster, naming names -- at least pronouncing them correctly -- wasn't one of Mr. DONOHUE's many strengths. He didn't earn the nickname "Jack Dontknowho" for no reason, Mr. TRIANO said. "It was always, 'that guy,' or 'you over there,'" he said. "I've seen him struggle to introduce his kids because he couldn't remember their names. He always told me he liked doing colour for the European teams, because no one knew if he wasn't saying their names right."
He travelled the world, but the dearest sight for Mr. DONOHUE was always his own front door, in Kanata, Ontario, where he spent his last days. Behind that door were wife Mary Jane, his six kids and his grandchildren.
"We're asking you to hug your families, extra special, and we're asking you to enjoy life, because we sure did and we still are," Mary Jane DONOHUE said this week.
Somewhere, the busy coach found time for all he needed to do. He used to keep a block on his desk reminding him that there are 86,400 seconds in a day, time enough if he organized himself. Family was a priority. At least five minutes of Mr. DONOHUE's day had to be reserved for hugging his kids. He was a believer in family and in human contact. In his coaching years, when he returned from a road journey, there would be a lineup awaiting him at home, the kids taking their turns to make up for the lost minutes of hugging during his absence.
"I met him at a dance he didn't go to," Mary Jane DONOHUE said in the pre-Los Angeles Games article. "My girlfriend and I went and he had several Friends who were very up on it. But Jack said he'd rather go to a movie and would meet them later. He came through the door as my girlfriend and I were walking out.
"He asked why we were leaving so soon, and said there were two gentlemen he wanted us to meet. He introduced my friend to one of his, then I asked who the other gentleman was supposed to be. Guess who?"
Mary Jane DONOHUE felt trust instantly. "I could have gone across the country with him that night and felt safe. If he's for you, he's for you all the way."

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PINNINGTON o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-10-31 published
Robert Herdman PECK
By Lyn PINNINGTON, Friday, October 31, 2003 - Page A20
Innovator, agricultural pioneer, conservationist, husband, father. Born October 17, 1914, in Sandwich West, Ontario Died June 10, in Blyth, Ontario, of natural causes, aged 88.
Robert PECK was born at his parents' farm, outside of Windsor, Ontario, the eldest of three children, into a world where farming meant horse-drawn implements, threshing bees and self-sufficiency.
He attended a one-room country school and the three PECK children (Robert, his sister Evelyn and his younger brother Donald), must have set some kind of record for whizzing through grade school. They were all in high school by the age of 11. And it was in high school, at the age of 11, that Robert participated in a science project that determined the course of his life. He was given some soybean seeds and asked if he thought he could grow them. At the time, it was generally thought that Canadian summers were too short and too cool to grow soybeans. His half-acre test plot succeeded, thus began a long and distinguished career in which he is credited with being one of the first to grow soybeans commercially in Canada.
After graduating from high school at the age of 16, he began his farming career in earnest. He wanted to grow the best soybeans in all of North America. In 1936, at the age of 22, he took second prize for soybeans at the Royal Winter Fair and the next year, he won first prize at the Chicago Grain and Hay Show. Other prizes followed, including the World Championship at the Royal and the first winner of the Victory Mills Trophy, both in 1947. In the same year, he became the only Canadian director of the American Soybean Association board.
In 1948, he married Lilah June QUILTER and they had three children: Brenda, Jim and Ruth. He continued his career as a registered seed grower. This is different from raising regular crops. It meant continuous collaboration with the Federal Department of Agriculture through its research station at Harrow, regular inspections of the fields, which had to be pristine (no weeds at all, which meant lots of hoeing), and cleaning and bagging seed by hand. In all, he had 45 years of active service with the Canadian Seed Growers' Association and in recognition of his accomplishments, he was inducted into the Essex County Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1995.
In the 1970s, Robert decided to retire to a new life and a new type of farming. Having changed farming in Essex County, he decided to change the landscape of Huron County. He purchased 100 acres near Blyth, Ontario, and planted 30,000 white pine, plus walnut and spruce trees, which he lovingly tended and pruned for almost three decades.
He became involved in the Blyth community with the same enthusiasm that he put into his first career. He was a board member and treasurer of the Blyth Centre for the Arts, and treasurer of the "Wilderness to Wawanosh" project for the 125th anniversary of East Wawanosh township. He served as an elder at the United Church in Blyth. In 1997, he was awarded a Landscape Naturalization Award by the Huron Stewardship Council.
He was a hard worker all his life. He started early in the morning and worked until dusk or later. But he also firmly believed that Sunday was a day of rest.
He was very generous and quietly supported several charitable organizations, and gave helping hands to those in need. When his daughter Ruth died of lupus at the age of 26, he donated a sizable sum to Lupus Research.
He was a quiet, unassuming man who let his work speak for him in many ways. Whenever we drive down a country road and see a field of soybeans, we will remember an 11-year-old boy who changed Canadian farming forever.
Lyn PINNINGTON is Robert PECK's niece.

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PINNOCK o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-05-31 published
Robert Marven SYER
Born February 19, 1912 at Thamesville, Ontario, died May 15, 2003 at Oakville, Ontario, late of Oakville (Bronte) and lastly of Burlington Ontario; predeceased by parents Frank Morgan SYER (1923) and Maud Lillian SYER (née) (1969,) and by brother Ralph Evans SYER (1932;) survived by his wife of 63 years, Frances Teresa SYER (née,) and seven children: Robert Marven (Marg HEEMSKERK) of Toronto, David Dirk (Mimi CHAMPAGNE) of Shelburne Nova Scotia, Susan Frances (Brian RIKLEY) of Hudson Québec, Michael Stanley of Oakville, Timothy William (Marilyn MacGREGOR) of Milton Ontario, Deborah Anne (Barry BALL) of Brampton Ontario and Dani Elizabeth (Brian FINNEY) of Orlando Florida; and by fifteen grandchildren: Sheri Lynne SYER (Michael PINNOCK) of San Jose California, Wendy Frances SYER (Kevin OUGH) of Peterborough Ontario and Julia Helen SYER (Pat PELLEGRINI) of Ajax Ontario; David Dirk SYER (Doris HOO) of Whitby Ontario and Judith Gail SUSLA (Joe SUSLA) of Oakville Brian Joseph Rikley (Eva GJERSTAD) and Toni Lauren RIKLEY (Dave KRINDLE) of Hudson; Cassidy Anne SYER (Danny PIETRONIRO) of Montréal, Michael Timothy SYER of Victoria, British Columbia and Robert Christopher SYER of London Ontario; Thomas William SYER and Douglas Donald SYER of Milton; and Hayley Elizabeth FINNEY, Brian James FINNEY and Kyle James FINNEY of Orlando; and by nine great-grandchildren: Skylar Syer OUGH of Peterborough and Julian Robert Domenico PELLEGRINI of Ajax; Robert Marven SYER, James Michael SYER and David Dirk SYER of Whitby and Erin Nicole SUSLA of Oakville; and Austin Tyler RIKLEY- KRINDLE, David Shane RIKLEY- KRINDLE and Joseph Cody RIKLEY- KRINDLE of Hudson; also, by nephew Richard Frank SYER of Lake Placid Florida, grand-nephew Michael Charles SYER of Ann Arbor Michigan and by brother-in-law Dr. Patrick Gaynor LYNES of Brampton and his family. An Anglican graveside service was held at St. Jude's Cemetery in Oakville on May 22, 2003. Expressions of respect may be sent to the family at 2455 Milltower Court Mississauga, Ontario L5N 5Z6 or by eMail to RMS@The RMSGroup.net gifts may be made to a charity of choice. A child is sleeping: An old man gone. ­ James Joyce

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