The Comox Valley lost a well-respected member of the sporting community and much-beloved family man with the death of Harry Lavoie.
The 78-year-old passed away unexpectedly in the early morning of June 1 from an abdominal optic aneurysm.
Born Sept. 18, 1935, Harry was husband to Joan, and they were just two months short of their 50th wedding anniversary. He was father to his three children – Stuart, Steve and Jolinda – and their families, which included nine adorable grandchildren and many others who called him Dad or Grandpa over the past years.
The Lavoies moved to the Comox Valley in 1971 where Harry coached the sports his children played. For the boys that included soccer, baseball, softball and men’s fastball and for Jolinda it was minor softball. He also refereed juvenile soccer when the boys played that sport.
Harry and Joan were involved in youth bowling and participated in adult bowling leagues. They coached many youth bowling teams along the way.
Harry coached a variety of sports teams throughout the Valley, which led to him staying involved in his favourite sport of fastball or softball, which he umpired in for many years before hanging up the “Blue” for good just a few years ago.
You could always find Harry in his chair at the back of the Lewis Park concession stand coaching the umpires on calls and plays as they happened – when he was supposed to be helping Joan work the concession, as they have done for decades.
Fellow umpire Ron Carter got to know Harry back in the early 1970s. He umpired fastball games with Stuart when Steve was playing catcher.
“Harry and Joan spent hours and hours in that little shack, feeding everybody hamburgers and hotdogs. They were always good to all the umpires and ball players. You couldn’t have got two better people down there running that place,” Carter said.
Former umpire Gord Parnham, who knew Harry for over 30 years, says he was a kind-hearted soul who would do anything for anybody. “He was always there willing to help,” Parnham said.
“He was definitely loved by the ladies league. It’s a big loss for Joan and her family and the extended family at the ball park.”
Gord Kruger, a former District 3 umpire in chief with Softball BC, knew Harry for 40 years and said he played a huge role in helping him organize the ladies’ league back in the mid 70s.
“We had a lot of ball going on in those days…fastpitch and ladies. It was pretty loosey-goosey. I tried to stitch it together. It was a bit overwhelming at times. I assigned Harry to be the coordinator for ladies’ umps (and) he did an outstanding job for the girls.”
Kruger said Harry was deeply involved in the women’s league charity tournament (which has been going on for 32 years) and coordinated other fundraising tourneys for various causes, including BC Heart and Stroke and St. Joseph’s General Hospital.
Stuart notes his dad will be forever deeply loved and sadly missed by his family and friends and all those he got to know and meet while involved with so many sports in the community for decades.
A celebration of life for this wonderful husband, father, grandfather and dear friend will be held Sunday, June 29 at Lewis Park diamond #1 right behind the concession stand from 1-3 p.m. Bring your lawn chair if you prefer not to stand. If the weather is not good, the celebration will move inside to the Lewis Centre.