Updated: Sep 27
by Andrew Parsons
Special to Wreckhouse Weekly
September 1st of this year marked the beginning of the first month of Fall, but in many ways and for many people it will be remembered in our corner of the province as the day we lost an icon.
James Hayward passed away at the age of 88. A family lost their patriarch, a town lost a citizen and hockey lost a pioneer.
Jim was predeceased by his wife Lucy. Jim and Lucy leave to mourn their children Barbara, Garry, Wayne, Pamela and Wanda, as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Unofficially though, they leave behind hundreds and hundreds of young people who were considered their boys and girls.
One cannot talk about our great sport in Port aux Basques without knowing the “Grandfather” of hockey.
If there were to be a Mount Rushmore of local hockey figures, he would undoubtedly be one of the prominent figures in this sculpture. He was literally there at the beginning of minor hockey in this town.
Beginning in 1967, and over the years, Jim was involved in multiple divisions of minor hockey and introduced countless children to the game. Over the 80’s and 90’s, he presided over the beginning of junior hockey and made his mark as a leader in local senior hockey as well.
There probably isn’t a task that he did not perform to ensure that his teams got a game of hockey.
Since his passing, social media has been filled with countless tributes and messages from the many players who sat on his bench, and in his whose lives he played a positive role.
There are many out there who shared a closer bond or played countless more games and practices with Jim than me. I won’t try to share their stories, as I would not be able to do justice to them.
I can tell about my first experience with the man with the gravelly voice and the heart of gold.
I was a young first year bantam goaltender about to take the pads off after a regular practice when Jim came in through the door and said with a voice that both excited me and scared the life out of me, “Parsons, we needs a second goalie for practice”.
To say that there was only one answer would be to confirm the obvious. And when he put his powerful hand on my shoulder, it only further cemented what that answer was.
Jim was deeply humbled to have been admitted into the provincial Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.
It was a recognition of his efforts and his impact and one that he did not seek, but most certainly deserved.
When I chatted with him about it that summer, he told me all about the event and the fact that he was honoured to be inducted in the same class as former Premier Danny Williams. I was quick to remind Jim that it was the former Premier who should be honoured to be in the same class as him.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that recognizing Jim without his beloved Lucy would be impossible.
They were truly a team in all of his endeavours, and she played a motherly figure to his players. She also took it upon herself to ensure that the uniforms were patched and ready, and that the bingo cards were done. Her role cannot go unnoticed or without recognition.
The passing of a loved one is usually a dark moment in time. Undoubtedly the loss of someone of Jim’s stature is one that is felt for what feels like eons.
But I say that we should take solace in celebrating the mark that he made, and the joy and opportunity he brought to so many over decades of volunteerism.
What we should feel is love for a person who gave so much to so many, and left behind good memories and great stories that will be told for many years to come.
The coach is being called up to the big leagues, and more importantly, to join his beloved Lucy, his partner through it all.
Rest In Peace Mr. Hayward.