Saturday, September 26, 2015

Uncovering Two Hidden Heroes

Bob Simpson

Dan Sharpe

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.

Recently one of Peterborough’s biggest sports fans bid an unexpected, sad farewell to family and friends without much fanfare…or so I thought.

Several 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.

Long-time 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.

At “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.

In 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.

Arriving 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 buddies. “

Coach 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.

A friendship 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 breeze.

Dan 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.

Bob’s friendship, 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 Famer.

No comments:

Post a Comment