Kelly Smith's equipment locker remains as a memorial shrine at the Comox 19 Wing fire hall.

Kelly Smith's equipment locker remains as a memorial shrine at the Comox 19 Wing fire hall.

Teeing it up in memory of a friend

Kelly Smith Memorial Golf Tournament open to the public this year

  • Jul. 29, 2015 2:00 p.m.

Earle Couper

Record staff

When Comox Valley Nissan presents the fifth annual Kelly Smith Memorial Tournament, it will be a smooth blend of a community-minded business helping friends remember a fallen comrade and raising money for a great cause.

Sgt. Kelly Smith was a deputy fire chief at 19 Wing Comox Fire Service. Five years ago in April, he left work and never returned.

“Kelly went home on a Friday and it was the typical, ‘What’s going on this weekend?’ conversation,” recalls Sgt. Jerry Snook, fire department supply officer at 19 Wing and co-ordinator of this year’s golf tournament, which goes Aug. 14 at Glacier Greens.

“He goes home on a Friday and Sunday the boys get a call from downtown Comox that he’s passed away with a heart attack,” Snook said.

That is the reason for the tournament; remembering Smith and raising money for the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Smith was 52 at the time of his passing and had no history of heart problems.

“We have a firefighter (fitness) test and if you can pass that you can pretty much do anything. When I said goodbye to him on Friday, I didn’t realize it was going to be the final goodbye,” Snook said.

While Smith’s memory lives on with those who knew him, newcomers to 19 Wing Fire Service have a visual reference point – Smith’s empty equipment stall in the fire service building.

“In the evening, to build up physical fitness as well as speed, core and teamwork, we play ball hockey,” Snook explained. “We kept Kelly’s stall. It has his nameplate, picture and ball hockey stick.

“That will always be there.”

Just a few steps away from Smith’s stall is a trophy case containing the memorial trophy – and it is a piece of art. Snook said Smith “never threw anything away” and one of his fellow firefighters, Rob Mitchell, grabbed some hose couplers and included them on a wood carving  that includes a raised maple leaf and the 19 Wing Fire Service badge.

The maple leaf is a reminder that Smith was a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan, and Snook joked it was a testament to Smith’s popularity that people still talked to him despite his choice of hockey teams.

The Maple Leafs’ theme is prominent at the tournament.

“All the signs saying Kelly Smith Memorial are in blue and white. All the KP (closest to the pin) and LD (long drive) signs will have the maple leaf flag on them,” said Snook. “Meal tickets have the maple leaf flag on them.

“When I give the rules and regulations I wear a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. I get heckled, but as soon as I say I’m doing it for Kelly, nobody (bothers) me.”

Snook said Smith called the Comox Valley home and was planning to retire here.

“He had over 26 years in the Forces. He was in Bosnia, and Afghanistan and a UN tour. He had probably four, five tours under his belt, plus he worked on ships. He served his country well,” Snook said.

This is the first year the Kelly Smith Tournament has been open to the public, and Snook’s efforts to line up sponsors is already paying dividends.

“We started off small. The first year we kept it within the firehall. We raised a few hundred dollars that year. Next year we did the same.

“Last year one of the guys mentioned we should try to make it a little bigger and get more people involved. We got a couple of sponsors and raised almost $2,400. This year, with the help of sponsors, we’re already at $3,500 and haven’t even swung a club yet.

“In the past four years we made probably $5,000. I’m hoping to make $5,000 just this year, and that’s because we have Comox Valley Nissan as a major sponsor,” Snook said.

Along with sponsoring every hole, Snook said Nissan is offering a hole in one prize of a new vehicle on both the front and back nine.

They have also donated silent auction items.

Brandon Longson, new car sales manager at Comox Valley Nissan, explained the dealership has a business development co-ordinator team that takes on the sponsorship and support of community fundraising projects.

“If it’s something our customers or staff are passionate about, we get involved and give it 100 per cent,” he said.

Earlier this year Nissan put on a tailgate party when several CFL players were in town for the Courtenay Centennial Homecoming Party celebrations, and they will be holding another one at the Kelly Smith Memorial tourney between the ninth and 10th holes with donations going to Heart & Stroke.

“We’re extremely excited to be part of this golf tournament,” Longson added.

Snook has also teed up a host of other sponsors.

Coastal Transportation and Storage is providing two hole in one prizes worth $5,000 and there are KP and long drive prizes for both men and women.

“Comox Fire Rescue is sponsoring a hole plus they donated $400 – $500 total, that’s fantastic,” Snook said. “They lost a firefighter (Capt. Stewart Rennie) two years ago to a heart attack,” Snook noted.

Comox fire chief Gord Schreiner is running a putting contest for the second year in a row, with the prize a whale watching tour by Campbell River Whale Watching & Grizzly Adventure Tours.

“Another big sponsor is Bryce Hansen Realty, who is sponsoring a hole and golf cards. Discovery Harbour Fuels up in Campbell River is sponsoring a hole plus donated a couple of hundred dollars. Also they’re going to have a contest where you hit a whiffle ball into a  bucket. Every time you hit it into the bucket you get a ticket that goes toward a $200 gas card at DHF,” said Snook.

The 18-hole tourney is a four-ball, best-ball format with a 1 p.m. shotgun start. Registration is at Comox Valley Nissan (535 Silverdale Crescent, 250-338-1988) by cash or cheque only. Those wishing to have a golf cart must phone Glacier Greens Golf Course (250-339-6515) to make arrangements.

Snook said he would love to see the tourney hit the 144-player maximum, and notes out-of-town golfers will help in that regard. “We’ve got a foursome coming from Chilliwack. A firefighter used to be here and knew Kelly, now he’s posted in Chilliwack so he’s bringing a team. He was here last year.

“Two or three guys are coming from Edmonton, and Bryce is bringing in some Realtors from western Canada. And we have Campbell River and of course the Comox Valley.”

The $360 per team entry fee includes a ribs and chicken dinner, and Snook says Ben Gill of Gill’s Catering at Glacier Greens cooks the best ribs in the Valley. There will be a silent auction and draw prizes during dinner, which will be preceded by a talk by Tana Darnell, Community Development Coordinator at Heart and Stroke Foundation, explaining how the funds raised will be used.

Along with fundraising and remembering a friend, Snook said, “What’s so great about the tournament, it’s the day before the air show, so as we’re golfing we will see aircraft out practising – at no extra charge.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Courtenay Nissan’s Matthew Bourassa, Geoff Piper and Sean LaFleur join YANA’s Ashley Smith, Kelly Rusk and Lisa Wilcox for the 4x4x48 event to raise funds. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Courtenay Nissan eats and runs for YANA

Dealership realized non-profit groups need new ways to raise funds during COVID

Rev. Sulin Milne at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Comox is part of those helping distribute food to those in need within the town. Photo by Jim Peacock
Comox church serving the community with food through COVID-19

“We knew there were so many people who were facing economic challenges …”

Cole Moore with one of his sisters, Jasmin Moore. Photo supplied
Courtenay man looks to brain surgery for second chance

Cole Moore’s sister sets up GoFundMe to help father looking after brother

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Nineteen people arrested, charges expected in Courtenay house raid

Investigators are continuing to comb through evidence seized

Demonstrators gathered Friday, March 5 at the Courtenay Court House, demanding protection of old-growth forests. Scott Stanfield photo
Concerned citizens march in Courtenay in name of old-growth rainforests

The Comox Valley is one of the B.C. communities engaged in mobilization… Continue reading

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ in Metchosin

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Most Read