Gary Shepherd was known for his love of sports, his outgoing character, coaching abilities, his sports shop, immense generosity and many years on North Glengarry council. He will be inducted into the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame this year both individually and as a founding member of the Alexandria Junior B Glens Hockey Club.
Born in 1944, Gary learned compassion, hard work and dedication. He worked along side his father, Lewis, who started the school bus business, fixing up school buses they bought from Western Ontario to resell. When his father passed away, Gary helped mother Marjorie care for brother Rodney who was 11 years younger, while also taking over the school bus business.
His passion for sports never ceased. He played football in high school and helped take the team to their first of seven league championships in 1963, which according to J.T.Hay, is always the most difficult. He played with the very successful coach, Stanley Fraser, at Glengarry District High School.
Gary also excelled at broomball in Alexandria and according to past inductee and teammate Edwin Hay, he was a great player. “He was so easy to get along with and always a top goal scorer.” Gary also played hockey, softball and football for the Lochiel Lochs for many years. His wife, Colleen, of 51 years says broomball was his favorite sport to play and coach.
Peggy Lafave recalls her days playing broomball in Alexandria with Gary as coach. “He was a good listener and instead of being critical, he was gentle in his suggestions. He was great to play for.”
Colleen explains how Gary loved all sports, and though golfing wasn’t his best, he enjoyed them almost as much as he thrilled with the bustle of his Glengarry Sports Shop.
“He couldn’t say no to anyone,” Colleen says admiringly of her late husband while he had the store. “He was always giving stuff away.” She describes how young and old would flock into the shop to hear about and discuss local sports excitement. “If you didn’t hear the latest, then you weren’t at Shepherd’s.” says Colleen. Many sports news items and stories originated there and would sometimes culminate with a slightly distorted story of a player’s achievements.
“The community was very supportive to buy equipment there. There was always a crowd.”
And Gary gave back in return. He was very involved with the Alexandria Junior B Glens as a voluntary shareholder and as president of the Board of Directors. The team has been famous for winning the St. Lawrence division title in 71-72 and the North East division title in 73-74. His involvement as founder and constant supporter for the team, through thick and thin, has been appreciated by players, coaches and the sporting community.
Gary’s dedication to the team was particularly noted when the Junior B’s had to relocate to the Maxville arena as the local arena was assessed non compliant for public use. It was Gary’s dedication and sense of Jr. hockey spirit that kept the team alive through the difficult years.
Gary also loved to fish and did much more after selling the store in 2010. His last escapade was taking a new boat on a maiden voyage in 2012 to Lake Temiskaming with Roch Lajoie where Colleen learned they took the bottom out of the boat when Gary called home to ask her to call the insurance company. “He was a proud fisherman and enjoyed it to the end.”
Gary was also a councillor for the township of North Glengarry for 23 years, right up until his death in 2013. Mayor Chris MacDonell recalls Gary as a man of few words. “But when he spoke, you listened,” explains MacDonell who visited Gary at the hospital in Ottawa the day before he passed away. “He always had something worthwhile to say. He didn’t shout for nothing.”
Gary Shepherd will be inducted into the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame August 15 in Alexandria.
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