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'This is a huge and sudden shock for everyone'

Bruce Fuhr
By Bruce Fuhr
February 22nd, 2013

In the short time he was at Mt. Sentinel, Mr. D made a huge impact on bullying, the well-being of the students, and the energy and optimism of the school. It is a shame that he died before he could make a greater impact on everybody, as I’m sure he would have. Thank you, Mr. D, for all the help and humour you’ve given us these short years.
               -posted by Sylvain G. on the Mount Sentinel High School website.

 

When someone dies we like to comfort ourselves by suggesting, “He’s in a better place now”?

This one hurts so much more because Blair D’Andrea was in the prime of his life.

The sad news of the passing of the Mount Sentinel VP flowed quickly through hallways of SD 8 schools.

An email sent out from Mount Sentinel Pac Secretary Linda Verishine said it this way:

“I am so very sad to tell you that Blair D’Andrea passed away from a massive heart attack at home on Wednesday night. This is a huge and sudden shock for everyone.”

I can still hear that loud, happy voice of Drey.

Hey Bruc-i-Fur . . . how’s it goin?

If you didn’t hear the voice, it was easy to spot the happy man with the shaved head coming from miles away.

Blair D’Andrea was a picture of happiness and what’s positive about life.

The guy always looked on the bright side of life. Tomorrow was always going to be better.

Whether it was at L.V. Rogers with the Aspire program, holding down the vice-principal job at Salmo where he led the mighty Falcons into battle on the hoop court or in the South Slocan where just walking down hallways at Mount Sentinel the SD 8 administrator had the kids smiling.

Ditto for games at the Lakeside Ball Diamonds while pitching for his slopitch team.

My first time spent getting to know Drey came when I assisted Lorne Wuori at Trafalgar coaching the Totems Grade 9 Boy’s Basketball team.

Drey’s older L.V. Rogers Junior Bombers didn’t like younger Totems very much and the crosstown competition turned into one of the greatest rivalries of the ages in Nelson basketball.

The Totems, unable to beat Drey’s Junior Bombers all season, got the last laugh when LVR was upset by Grand Forks in the West Kootenay High School Junior Boy’s Championship semi final.

Trafalgar got past J. Lloyd Crowe before outlasting the Wolves in the final.

The Totems continued their remarkable play by shocking the province and winning the B.C. Juvenile Boy’s Basketball title at the NBA Grizzlies Centre in Richmond.

The next season it was Drey’s turn to coach arguably the best team in Nelson High School Basketball history.

The LVR Junior Bombers overcame hurdle after hurdle, refusing to lose and surprising their coach game after game to finish the season with an amazing 38-0 record.

Not a single loss against teams from the rest of the province, although there were a few potential bumps in the road.

But for the most part an unblemished record as the players took to Drey like a young child to candy, capturing the provincial title in in a walk over New Westminster.

Drey was most proud to share the title with Lonnie, Eric and Jason in the stands at Dover Bay High School in Nanaimo.

But Drey didn’t do his best work on the basketball court, although winning a provincial title is nothing to sneeze at.

Where he shined was in the classroom as a great motivator with a great heart.

I saw many a wandering young mind who Drey put back onto the rails stop to give a huge “thank you” many a time.

But not only was Drey a teacher, a mentor and an administrator, he was also a great father to his two boys Jason and Eric and a loving husband to his caring wife Lonnie.

I know right now it’s not much comfort to anyone knowing Drey’s in a better place now.

But one thing for sure, everyone who knew Drey is happy they were part of his ride.

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