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Hockey matriarch Cathy Gare was an 'inspiration to us all'

Cathy Gare, far right, is pictured with former Nelson businessman and Maple Leafs goalie Gus Adams, Ernie Gare Scholarship co-chair Emily Beauchamp and Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe during a Ernie Gare Scholarship Celebration. — Submitted photo

It’s comforting to know that Ernie Gare Sr. will now have his faithful companion, Cathy, at his side to swap stories about hockey and current events in Nelson.

The recent death of Cathy Gare was not a shock, but still a jolt to many in the hockey community who watched the Nelson native give up her time to spearhead many major athletic events hosted in the Heritage City.

Cathy Gare, matriarch of the Gare family, passed away peacefully at Jubilee Manor in Nelson.

“Cathy’s commitment was an inspiration to us all,” said long-time Nelson hockey historical, Bill McDonnell when asked about Cathy Gare.

Cathy was born in 1930, growing up as one of seven children in the Morrison family.

The lifelong resident of the Heritage City attended St. Joseph’s School before meeting husband Ernie and raising six wonderful children.

Sadly, Ernie Gare Sr. predeceased Cathy after 29 years of marriage due to ALS.

However, the passing of her husband did not deter Cathy from tossing her hat in the volunteer ring anytime there was an event needing support — such as the ALS Society of BC and the Ernie Gare Scholarship Society.

The Ernie Gare Scholarship began in the 1960’s as a way for the Nelson Maple Leafs to recruit players for the Western International Hockey League squad — giving the players a chance to get an education at the former Notre Dame University while playing hockey.

The Maple Leafs were joined on scholarship by members of the Canadian National Ski Team.

After the Leafs folded in the late 1980’s, Cathy, along with close friend and Ernie Gare Scholarship recipient Emily Beachamp, continued to lead the scholarship, transitioning the program to award funding to post-secondary athletes from Nelson as they continued their respective careers at the college or university level.

To raise funds the dynamic duo lobbied high-profile sports figures to headline the scholarship weekend, appear at the banquet and auction and play in the annual mid-summer hockey game.

The hockey classic culminated a week of festivities in Nelson as the game was always followed the longstanding World's Mid-Summer Curling Bonspiel at the Nelson Curling Club.

Players like Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, Vancouver Canucks captain Trevor Linden, Vancouver Canucks Geoff Courtnall, Vancouver Canucks coach and GM Pat Quinn, Vancouver Canucks GM Brian Burke and distinguished Vancouver television sportscaster John McKeachie were some of the headliners for the weekend that also included local NHL stars, Danny Gare, Greg Adams, Pat Price and Simon Wheeldon.

Other headliners to the weekend included Canadian National Ski Team members, 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist Nancy Greene Raine and former women's coach Currie Chapman.

“When Ernie died in 1981, Cathy, along with friends and citizens established the Ernie Gare Scholarship Society with the purpose of continuing Ernie’s vision of providing opportunity to athletes in their pursuit of education and sport,” McDonnell explained. 

In 1996, Hockey Canada came to Nelson with the local committee joining in to host the Air Canada Cup U18 tournament.

Canada defeated Team U.S.A in the final with Team Japan and Team Finland rounding out the four-team tournament.

“One such example occurred in 1996 when Nelson hosted the highly successful Hockey Canada U18 Pacific Cup," said scholarship recipient and former Maple Leafs goaltender, McDonnell, who's family became lifelong friends of the Gare Family.

"Cathy’s, along with family members’ efforts, contributed to its success.”

Cathy, also chaired Nelson’s hosting of the BC Winter Games in 1989.

And during the summer of 2011, Cathy and retired NHL son Danny, received customized rings at the BC Hockey Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremony in Penticton.

Danny Gare is pictured with Cathy after receiving customized rings at the BC Hockey Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremony in Penticton. — Submitted photo

Cathy is survived by her six children, Ernie (Debi), Danny, Glenda (Tom), Mary Anne (Jim), Jennifer, and Morey (Robin)  19 grandchildren Skyler, Lanny, Grady, Leath, (Ernie & Debi’s) Danielle, Kelly, (Danny & Maryann’s) Jessica, Jamie,(Tom & Glenda’s) Katy, Brendan, Tara, Liam, (Jim & Mary Anne’s) Amy, Jillian, Heather, Taylor, (Doug & Jennifer’s) Logan, Gabbi, Grayson (Morey & Robin’s) and 24 great grandchildren. She was truly loved and cherished by her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren along with her nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by husband Ernie, her parents, Mary and John Morrison, brothers Jack (Doris), Paddy, Frank, Linus, Mickey, and sisters Margaret (Mort) and Mary (Marsh).

A Celebration of Life Mass will be held to celebrate Cathy’s faith at 11 a.m. on July 29, 2023, Cathedral of Mary Immaculate Church, 813 Ward Street followed by a family and friends gathering at Lakeside Park.

In lieu of flowers, Cathy's family suggests a donation of remembrance to the local charity  Nelson & Area Friends of the Family .