Kitchener says good-bye to one of hockey’s unsung heroes

in Other News

Pat Doherty, Kitchener's Mr. Hockey

To Kitchener, Pat Doherty was Mr. Hockey.

To Kathy Doherty-Masters and her siblings, he was dad.

“He was one of those guys who was just always there for you,” she said.

Doherty, who spent a lifetime filling almost every role imaginable at local hockey rinks, died Tuesday. He was 87.

The retired phys-ed teacher had suffered a series of heart attacks in recent years but always charged ahead with a smile on his face.

He spent Monday night chatting on the telephone with one of his hockey-playing grandsons about the upcoming season then, later, passed away in his sleep at his Evelyn Crescent home.

“His grandchildren were his absolute life,” said Doherty-Masters. “He followed them to every ballpark, hockey rink or track meet and supported anything they were involved with.”

Waterloo Region got a taste of that dedication over the years. At times, Doherty’s hockey imprint stretched nationwide.

Locally, he was the face of the Kitchener Minor Hockey Association where he spent decades as a volunteer in a variety of roles from president to equipment manager to chief problem solver until he retired in 2007.

Doherty also convened the local Jr. B loop, managed the Kitchener Greenshirts, chaired the Ontario Hockey Association and wrote manuals for coaches that were used across Canada, among other things.

“His impact is almost immeasurable,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “There are literally tens of thousands of young people that have been through our Kitchener minor hockey program that have benefitted from his direct involvement or as a result of some of the organizational things that he’s done.”

Doherty just loved lending a hand.

He volunteered on city committees for more than three decades.

After his heart attacks, he went to schools in Waterloo Region to show students how to properly perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and use defibrillators — things that had twice saved his life.

Even in the weeks leading up to his death he was trying to organize fundraising efforts to help bring a sports field to a Kitchener school.

“First and foremost he was Mr. Hockey but in many ways he was Mr. Kitchener as well,” said Vrbanovic. “His loss while profoundly felt in the hockey community will really be felt in many facets of community life.”

While Doherty was often in the spotlight, his family relishes the little things he did behind the scenes.

Like how he delivered meals to homeless people around the region. Like the green thumb he displayed in his immaculate garden. Like how he flooded the backyard every winter to make a homemade ice rink. Or like the way he loved Gloria, his wife of 62 years this Saturday.

The kids will miss his advice, his inspiration and his perspective. They’ll miss their dad.

“He always helped others starting with family first and then branching out from there,” said Doherty-Masters. “He was always optimistic, always looking forward. He never sat back and felt sorry for himself.”

Doherty is survived by wife Gloria, children Kathy, Kelley and Larry and four grandchildren and three step-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have yet to be finalized.

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