Bill Green (above centre) died suddenly at his home on June 9 at the age of 55. The funeral Mass is at St. Lawrence O’Toole Church in Barry’s Bay on Thursday June 13 at 10 a.m. following visitations at Heubner Funeral Home.
Green grew up in Barry’s Bay and members of his family reside in the Valley. As a kid Green played hockey and as an adult he believed that every child should be able to play hockey if they want. He was so well known locally for his volunteer work that many Valley families considered Green the face of minor hockey. The Current had no difficulty finding people to share their thoughts about him.
Green told The Current in 2018 prior to the Reunion Cup tournament,
We have a team of dedicated volunteers that help make minor hockey what it is today and I congratulate them for their efforts. From Novice to Midget, boys and girls, it really is amazing to watch these kids grow and thrive. Playing hockey builds their confidence, athletic skills, and team spirit; it gives them a sense of belonging. Hockey teaches them so many life lessons while having a lot of fun doing it.
Councillor Dave Shulist (aka Johnny Kashub aka Commissioner of Opeongo Heritage Cup Hockey) said, “He was a big part of our success when it came to youth hockey in our area.” Shulist credited Green for helping to create a “bridge of friendship between the Opeongo Heritage Cup event and the Barry’s Bay and Area Minor Hockey Association (BBAMHA).”
Bill Green (left) with Dave Shulist
Green had previously coached minor hockey but it wasn’t long before he was Vice-President of BBAMHA and then President. Marc Leclerc, Treasurer of BBAMHA, worked closely with Green for the past 14 years. They developed budgets and managed the minor hockey finances to build up reserves so the association didn’t have to bother business owners every year for sponsorship, by planning for team jerseys on a five-year cycle instead. Leclerc said Green used his local knowledge of people and businesses to juggle schedules so the kids could play as often as possible every season. He worked with the municipalities to get sufficient, affordable ice time. He organized golf tournaments as fund raisers and encouraged volunteers to coach the kids. He organized tournaments so the kids could travel and meet other teams. Leclerc had nothing but praise for Green. He said, “He had no kids [of his own], but kids were very important to him. He wanted to be sure as many kids as possible could participate in minor hockey.” About their working relationship, he said, “Bill taught me to be more patient … he taught me so much.”
Green also served as President of the Upper Ottawa Valley Minor Hockey League – a position he resigned from in 2019 so that he could become Chair of District 5 Minor Hockey where he could continue his work to bring minor hockey to as many kids as possible throughout the whole of Renfrew County.
Rose Shulist, as a hockey parent, helped Green with fundraising and tournaments over the past few years. She said he was very genuine. “He never had kids of his own and he just wanted to give back.”
For many years Green worked at McCarthy’s car dealership in Killaloe. When the business closed and he lost his job there, he applied to Madawaska Valley Association for Community Living (MVACL). Monica Prymack, Executive Director, recalls he said that losing the McCarthy’s job gave him an opportunity to do what he had always wanted to do – to help people.
Prymack echoed Green’s hockey colleagues’ assessment of him. She said he loved hockey and was always so concerned about children in the community whose average working parents couldn’t afford the expense. “Green was always helping to find ways for those kids to play. He was dedicated. He felt every kid should have the opportunity to play hockey and would help find [them] equipment if needed.”
Green’s dedication to help people spilled over into his job at MVACL too. His career at MVACL progressed quickly, even though he was hired without any formal qualifications in the field. From volunteer to part-timer to full-time employee, by 2013 Green was appointed to the responsible role of team leader. He also became bargaining chair for the union at MVACL (Local 473 of OPSEU). A colleague remembers him going “over and above” to listen to people at all hours so that everyone felt their issues were being heard.
Most importantly, MVACL colleagues say Green was a true advocate for people with disabilities. He was always trying to help people to have quality of life. For example, he took one gentleman he supported on a road trip to Nashville. The man was a big fan of Johnny Cash so Green took him to the Grand Ole Opry. For another client of MVACL, Green, as an active member of a local hunt camp, would take the man he supported to the hunt camp every year to be “with the guys.” It became the highlight of that gentleman’s year. Green looked for opportunities to make people feel included, even creating a “job” at the arena for an MVACL client to open the “gate” for players coming on and off the ice. Prymack said,
He was an amazing man.
Clearly many Valley residents will feel the holes left by his untimely death.
Photo at top from 2018 Reunion Cup (submitted)