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I thought I'd share a story I wrote for Peterborough Sports Xpress magazine about two very special men who forged a friendship that lasted for 45 years until the untimely death of one of them.
one of Peterborough’s biggest sports fans bid an unexpected, sad farewell to
family and friends without much fanfare…or so I thought.
heartwarming stories were shared at his memorial service by a man who took a
teenaged sports fanatic under his wing and flew with him for the next 45 years.
Chemong Lake resident Bob Simpson, or “Bondsy” as his friends called him,
passed away from complications following a stroke. He was a
kind, considerate “gentle giant” who was loved by all who knew him.
“Bondsy’s” memorial service held in mid August, former Peterborough Pete and
member of the Peterborough & District Sports Hall of Fame, Dan Sharpe had
the pleasure of eulogizing his friend.
Those in attendance heard things that, until then, had been known only
to a few close friends and family.
the late 60’s Dan was boarding with Bob’s grandparents Hugh and Madge Hunter on
Euclid Avenue along with his German Shepherd, Sam. Bob showed up one evening just as Dan was
leaving for East City Bowl to play a City League Softball game for Deck
Transport. When Bob learned where Dan
was headed he stated that he was going there too and Sharpy offered him a lift. The rest, as they say, is history.
at the ballpark Dan headed for the bench to put on his spikes and prepare for
the game. Bondsy followed him and took a
seat on the bench, remaining there for the entire game. The scenario repeated itself for several
games and Dan’s teammates wondered who this tall, young man was. The response was, “he’s one of Sharpy’s
Earl Hoover decided that Bob should be part of the team and outfitted him with
jersey, parts and cap. Bob was in 7th
heaven. Dan related how Bob got his
moniker …”Bondsy”. Seeing Bob’s savvy in the
outfield during the warm-up Gary
Holbrook told him of another outfielder who played alongside Willie Mays with
the San Francisco Giants, Bobby Bonds (Barry’s dad). Gary gave him the nickname and it stuck.
was forged between Dan and Bob that continued for 45 years until Bob’s untimely
passing. Every week for 35 years Bob,
Dan and Frank Kelly would get together to watch some sports and shoot the
and his wife Nancy, another well-known local sports figure and Hall of Famer,
would invite Bob up to their cottage every summer putting him to work with a
weed whacker and chain saw in exchange for a tasty, home cooked meal. Danny joked that Nancy always piled Bob’s
plate high while she gave her hubby a meagre portion. Bob loved his food and enjoyed those trips to
the cottage with the Sharpes.
Discovering how much of an impact Bob Simpson made on Dan Sharpe's life was a powerful reminder that it's not always the successful, celebrated athlete that fosters these lifelong friendships. Bob positively impacted all those who knew him. Dan and Nancy Sharpe, Frank Kelly, Earl Hoover and Gary Holbrook, among others, can attest to that. They loved him!
For many at Bob’s
memorial service two hidden heroes were uncovered. I’m sure Dan Sharpe never opened his arms and
heart to “Bondsy” with any intention of recognition. Even as I spoke with Dan while writing this
story he wanted all the accolades to go to Bob.
his help at the cottage and his kind, generous heart had endeared him to the Sharpes
and in their opinion…he should be remembered and honoured as a true Hall of