Hodge: Applauding the Kelowna Civic Awards

Annual civic awards banquet celebrates the best of what so many Kelowna residents do for their community.

Charlie Hodge.

Full applause to the many worthy award winners and nominees at Wednesday night’s 41 annual Civic Awards.

An impressive Kelowna Community Theatre crowd were verbose in their support and appreciation of the many recipients who were acknowledged for their volunteer efforts to help make Kelowna an even better place in which to live.

As always, Tez and I were amazed at the lengthy list of accomplishments tallied by the various recipients and nominees. It is a bit boggling the enormous amount of time and energy some folks so willingly contribute to our community. Of particular worthy praise was the myriad of milestones compiled by several of the students and youth who were recognized at the event.

Anyone suggesting today’s youth are not involved or aware of the world around them should consider attending the civic awards banquet for a healthy dose of positive reassurance that, as The Who once sang, “The kids are alright”.

From a personal stance, the highlight of the night was friend and former mayor Sharon Shepherd named recipient of the Anita Tozer Memorial Award, given to the recipient in recognition of an extraordinary and positive contribution to the quality of life in Kelowna.

The annual award is awarded for work over several years, not just the past year as is the case in all other categories.  The award is also the only one which involves city council and the recipient must have the unanimous support of all nine council members.

In my three terms of civic political service, I can honestly attest that I do not know any councillor or mayor, in Kelowna or elsewhere, as committed and compassionate about their town as Shepherd has been.

Both prior and since her years of political service, Shepherd has championed so many causes including women and youth issues, homelessness, environment, volunteerism, business, and even animals.

It has been my true honour to not only serve with her on council in the past, but to also sit on various committees with her, and to call her and husband Mike my good friends.

Congratulations Sharon.

And a full round of applause as well to the hard working organization committee for another great event.

***

Speaking of awards and winners, I am thrilled to see well known Kelowna musician and thespian Randall Robinson among the nominees in the prestigious ninth annual Okanagan Arts Awards.

Hosted by the Arts Council of the Central Okanagan Robinson was named as a candidate for Artistic Excellence in Theatre for his writing, directing and acting in this year’s brilliant Raft Of The Medusa musical/drams.

I have already waxed great praise for the spellbinding, historic stage presentation completely created by Robinson and long-time musical sidekick and best friend Pat Brown. Raft Of The Medusa was not only an intense, riveting play, it also  featured top shelf original musical scores, superb musicianship, and literally spine-tingling singing.

I can honestly say in 40 years of covering theatre events as a journalist that no other locally written and produced performance comes close to the professionalism and skillful display that the Raft displayed. I am serious when I suggest Robinson and Brown’s collective creation merits major stages around the continent.

Best of luck Randall, you certainly deserve it.

***

And, clearly, rumours of my demise are unfounded though I am sure caught a few people off-guard.

My namesake, friend, and distant relative Charlie Hodge, the former Montreal Canadian, Vancouver Canuck and Oakland Seal NHL goalie,  died last week in Vancouver.

Hodge was an outstanding net minder in the 1950s, ’60s and early ’70s winning five Stanley Cups and two Vezina trophies. After retiring from the game, Hodge wound up scouting for Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.

I had the pleasure of meeting  the man numerous times and taking part in a few celebrity golf games with him. A witty, cantankerous character, Hodge was not one to seek the spotlight often. He loved the game of hockey and was well loved in his community of Aldergrove.

We shared a number of good stories and chuckles during our visits together and spent more time talking about our shared passion of canoeing more than we did hockey. Ironically, Hodge could not swim and was known to wear bright blue water wings on his arms when paddling. Hilarious.

As a youngster, I grew up getting teased by others when I would introduce myself. “Oh, are you the goalie for the Canadians” folks often asked even though the veteran goalie was 15 years older than I. I heard it so often it became somewhat irritating.

Years later, after writing Howie Meeker’s biography, I met Hodge at an event and he immediately said, “So you’re the guy that wrote Howie’s book. I am so tired of being asked why I wrote his book and not my own.”  To which I quickly retorted, “Don’t start with me on that, do you know how many times I was asked if I was you?”

We chuckled heartily at which point he replied, “Clearly you are not me— you have a much prettier face,” pointing to his scarred mug that had met many a puck before face masks existed or were very effective.

Rest in peace my friend, and may there be plenty of shut-outs and better masks awaiting you in your next journey.

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