Remembering Hall of Fame Member Murray Smith
Article from Edmonton Journal: Life and Times: Sports psychologist always positive while getting into an athlete's head
After he was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, educator, coach and sports psychologist Murray Smith said the voters had kindly overlooked that “I was mediocre as an athlete.”
Smith’s self-deprecating analysis forgets the fact he was a wide receiver on the 1947 University of Alberta Golden Bears football team with another kid named Peter Lougheed, who was a running back and would one day carry the ball as premier of the province.
If Smith, who passed away on Feb. 26 at 92 years of age, never graduated to the pros as an athlete, he had so many other skills and interests.
He could be found in the front row of many a jazz club, he counted the late Tommy Banks as a good friend. He went to Oxford for his post-doctoral work, he taught Inuit kids how to swim after going to where they lived.
He taught high school at Strathcona Composite with Hockey Hall of Famer Clare Drake before they both were hired by U of A dean Maury Van Vliet at his phys-ed faculty in 1958. Smith coached the junior football Edmonton Huskies and coached swimming and football at the U of A.
He later gave psychology advice to famous young pros with the Edmonton Oilers from 1990-94, again jokingly saying “a lot of them are very sensitive and if they have a guaranteed three-year contract for $15 million you have to be very careful how you talk to them.”
He loved working with juniors in Kelowna and Kamloops, B.C., in the Western Hockey League as a sports psychologist, many whom would go on to be NHL players. He worked until he was 84.
Smith was born Aug. 5, 1925, in Dauphin, Man., the second of six children. He moved to Edmonton in the early 1930s and went to school at Eastwood, which would later become Eastglen High School. In 1948 he married Rean Elston, a fantastic dancer, and they had a full house, looking after six kids: Bruce (construction engineer at NAIT), Murray Jr. (school principal), Devon (school principal and now a school psychologist), Carla (wine merchant), Cameron (advertising in Dallas) and famous dance artist Peggy Baker, who was bestowed the Order of Canada.
Smith graduated from the U of A in 1948 with an education degree and did post-doctoral work at UCLA and in England before starting his multi-faceted teaching career, never stopping his learning as associate dean academic from 1958-89.
He was a wise, interested and interesting man whom Drake’s wife Dolly Drake said was very much a mentor to her husband. Same goes for former Bears’ hockey equipment manager Derek Drager, who said he was forever indebted to Smith for his help on Drager’s excellent book on Clare Drake, The Coaches’ Coach.
“Murray helped Clare with his coaching philosophy. The Golden Bears’ toughness list of what a Golden Bear athlete should be, how he should compete on and off the ice. Ten or 12 things. They developed that list and I actually put the list on my son’s wall when he was young. It was a part of life,” said Drager.
Smith had an infectious laugh, he tooled around town in a sporty black car with tinted windows as he got older, wearing a black leather jacket and dark glasses.
“He was a cool guy,” said Drager. “He always used to say, ‘Be cool and do what you gotta do.’”
“I really do think Murray was kind of a renaissance man,” said Larry Dufresne, a defensive back, high school track coach, accomplished painter and assistant coach on the 1980 Golden Bears team that had Smith on the staff as running backs coach. They won the Vanier Cup as best college team in the land.
“With the Bears, Jim (head coach Donlevy), Clarence (Kachman) and myself all had big egos and Murray came in and developed rules for the players and the coaches. We’d be arguing on the field at the start of the season and he’d say, ‘Look guys we have to change this right now.’ The reason we won the College Bowl in 1980 was because Murray was a sports psychologist.’’
“Murray’s strength was talking to individuals not teams, though. It was that way when he worked with the Oilers too, getting into the nitty gritty of what a person is about,” said Dufresne.
As a sports psychologist, Smith hated coaches of all persuasions who berated athletes like college great Bobby Knight at Indiana. He felt athletes responded considerably better to positive reinforcement and he always preached that.
He tried to live that philosophy too. Concerned with a spate of drownings, he organized a barge to travel to the Northwest Territories so residents could take swimming lessons. “He got this barge with a pool on it and he’d stop at an inlet and teach kids how to swim. It was part of the Red Cross, a really innovative way to do it,” said Murray Smith Jr.
Former Oilers equipment manager Barrie Stafford had Smith as his professor at the U of A when he played hockey for the Golden Bears.
“I remember distinctly that the Golden Bears’ players would change their course load at the beginning of a term to make sure they took Dr. Smith’s courses. He had a certain approach to teaching that was different than any of the other professors. Treated everybody like they were adults. Down to Earth,” said Stafford.
“More than anything, Dr. Smith was a humble, kind person. I always looked at him as my grandpa. He had a way with people. You have a lot of professors in school but he stands out for me. He helped changed my life. That’s a gift if a teacher can do that,” said Stafford.
Smith’s wife Rean died Jan. 13 at 89 years of age. A celebration of the couple’s life was held April 21 at the Derrick Golf and Winter Club.
Remembering Honoured Member Stan Obodiac
Article from Yorkton This Week: History Corner - Hockey Star of the past, Stan Obodiac of Yorkton
Stan Obodiac died in 1984 at age 62. His last occupation had been Publicity Director for the Toronto Maple Leafs for 26 years. Except for a stint as a pilot in World War II hockey consumed Stan’s life. He grew up in Yorkton in the years of radio broadcasts listening to the National Hockey League games announced by famed Foster Hewitt.
Stan played with the Lethbridge Maple Leafs. He won a gold medal in 1951 as lead scorer at the World Ice Hockey Championship in Paris, France. The Lethbridge team was inducted to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame the same year. He coached and played on European teams in Great Britain and Switzerland between 1948 to 1955.
In 1978, Obodiac wrote an article published in “The Reporter,” the title being Hockey Explained to Other Nations. He started off by giving credit to our Canadian winters for the passionate interest in hockey. He goes so far as to state that it was not so much the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway from east to west that bound the country together but the voice of hockey on the radio, and later since 1952 on television.
Here are a few excerpts from the article: “The hockey players who take to the ice before they can properly walk or swim, progress to tykes, atoms, peewees. Midgets, juveniles, juniors, seniors, professionals, and oldtime hockey. Upon retirement, it is just as much an honour for a hockey player to be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as it is to become a Senator or receive the Order of Merit from the country. These kudos and manifestations of love for the sport are not excessive when you consider that Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto has not had a single unsold seat for Leaf Hockey since 1946. The demand is almost as great in Montreal and Vancouver, two of the other Canadian metropolis in the National Hockey League.”
Today, this very strong bonding of Canadians with hockey that Obodiac speaks of has become ever so evident after the death toll of 16, and the suffering of the wounded from the bus crash of the Humbolt Junior Hockey Team on April 6th. It is a time of overwhelming grief for families, friends and for our nation, and sympathizers of other countries across the world. The moments of silence held in great numbers of places, the vigils, people helping in various ways and the outstanding results of fundraising to assist all concerned provides the proof of this strong bonding.
Honoured Member Ron Hayer has Passed
Article from Edmonton Journal: Longest serving Edmonton city councillor, Ron Hayter, dead at 81
Edmonton’s longest-serving city councillor, Ron Hayter, was remembered by his family as someone who was tough and demanding, but also quick to hug, quick to laugh, and quick to forgive. He died Saturday at age 81 in a St. Albert nursing home.
First elected in 1971, Hayter spent 33 years on council before retiring in 2010. At the time of his retirement, the Ward 2 councillor was one of Canada’s longest-serving municipal politicians in office. Remembering a colleague and a friend, Coun. Scott McKeen described Hayter as “one of Edmonton’s greatest characters.”
“He stood up for Edmonton,” McKeen said. “He wasn’t intimidated by premiers, politicians, MLAs or ministers. He told it like it was. He was a firebrand.”
But away from the eyes of the public and politicians, Hayter was a doting dad. On Sunday, his daughter Sparkle Hayter shared some memories. “When I was a little kid, and still believed in Santa Claus, he and my mom took a big boot and made a sooty footprint on the rug, as if Santa had left it,” she said in an email. “They were always doing things like that.”
Hayter was predeceased by his wife, Grace Hayter, who died of cancer at age 64 in the Misericordia Hospital in January 2005. Sparkle Hayter said on Sundays the family drove to small towns where her father’s baseball team was playing, so they got to see a lot of central Alberta. “Games were usually followed by picnics and ice cream.”
Another incident she recalled was from 1983 when she and her father drove to Hinton and Grande Cache to “abduct” his father, Slim Hayter, an old trapper, and bring him to the city for Christmas so he could meet his great grandson Emerson (and also see the doctor, because her grandfather had missed an appointment).
“That was an adventure,” she said. “Seeing where he grew up in northern Saskatchewan, and seeing where our family came from in P.E.I. was wonderful too. He took me with him to meet Prime Minister Lester Pearson, and also (Pierre Elliott Trudeau), and those were big thrills for a budding wonk like me.”
Hayter first moved to Edmonton in 1959 to become a reporter for the Edmonton Journal. Close to a decade later, in 1968, he unsuccessfully ran for city council before winning a seat three years later. He retired from public office in 1995 for a six-year stint with the National Parole Board, but returned to civic politics in 2001. Hayter was a past president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, a life member of the Yellowhead Highway Association and he pushed for construction of the LRT, the new City Hall and what became the Shaw Conference Centre. He was also behind public smoking restrictions and the appointment of Canada’s first municipal auditor. Early in his career, Hayter twice ran unsuccessfully as a provincial Liberal candidate and was asked twice by Premier Ralph Klein to seek a provincial Tory nomination, but he turned down those invitations.
Hayter was also a keen sportsman and was a powerful force within the baseball community in the city, province and nation. Inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006, Hayter not only played the sport but in 1968 he took the reins of Baseball Alberta for three years. He also served Baseball Canada in various capacities over the years and represented Canada in the International Baseball Federation for 18 years. In 1979 he founded the Edmonton International Baseball Foundation. “If there was any justice in this world, the baseball park would be called Ron Hayter Park,” McKeen said of Edmonton’s ball field.
While Hayter loved baseball, his daughter said he shared a passion for a lot of other things. “He played (baseball) with us when we were kids. He loved to go out into the bush with his dogs, and he loved to laugh,” she said. “He loved comedy and turned me on to some very funny people. He loved to travel, and I was able to meet up with him and my mom in different places after I moved away. We had a great time in London, in Vegas, in New York and in Toronto.”
But home was where his heart was. “He loved Edmonton best of all, and was a great promoter of the city wherever he went,” she said. “Nobody worked harder for Edmonton than Ron Hayter.”
Mayor Don Iveson took to social media Sunday to offer his “heartfelt condolences to the Hayter family, with gratitude for Ron’s service” to Edmonton. Iveson said the High Level Bridge will be turned blue Monday night in his memory. Details for a memorial service are still being worked out.
Honoured Member Orest Korbutt
Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is deeply saddened by the passing of long-time ASHFM supporter Orest Korbutt.
Orest was inducted in 2013 as a Multisport Builder. His many contributions to sport will not be forgotten, particularly at the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, where he worked closely with Staff, Board, and Hall of Fame Members to ensure the preservation of sport history for all to enjoy.
Please take a few moments to reflect on Orest’s amazing legacy to sport and read his induction biography below:
Orest Korbutt retired from the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museums Board of Directors in 2012, after serving as its only Chairman for 15 years. He was the driving force behind the fundraising, development and vision for the ASHFM building that was built in 1998/99, and for its ongoing growth during his chairmanship. Orest was Chairman of the Alberta Sports, Recreation, Parks & Wildlife Foundation for ten years and served as a Director with the Alberta Sport Council from 1986 to 1992. Orest was President of Hockey Alberta, the Edmonton Knights of Columbus hockey program, and was a director with the Canadian Hockey Association.
Orest was an outstanding volunteer for many organizations and made a significant impact on sport development at all levels. He was also involved in Youth Sports Development and Scholarship opportunities. His strong commitment to hockey throughout the years was shown through his achievements and major roles in purchasing the Knights of Columbus Hockey Twin Arenas and being instrumental in the management of the rink. He was a pioneer in the development of international ice hockey, and was very involved in the initiation of hockey exchange programs with the Hokkaido, Japan Ice Hockey Association and the Chinese Ice Hockey Association.
Orest Korbutt received the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Award in February 2013. He was inducted into the Edmonton Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988, and was a Life Member of that organization. He was awarded the Hockey Canada Order of Merit.
Staff and Board of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum are wearing their jerseys in support of the Humboldt Broncos Jr 'A' Hockey Club.
We are sending our love and support to the team, their families, the emergency workers, and everyone connected to the accident. Sport is the core of Canadian culture.
As part of the Canadian sporting family, today we wear our jerseys and put our sticks out for you.
#JerseysForHumboldt #PrayForHumboldt #HumboldtStrong #HumboldtBroncos #PutYourSticksOut #SticksOutForHumboldt #WeAreAllBroncos