Special Olympics BC mourns the passing of Howie Meeker, an unforgettable sport icon and an influential and inspiring friend to our movement for more than four decades, who died today at the age of 97.
Howie Meeker was a Canadian hockey legend, as a player, coach, and iconic broadcaster. For more than 40 years, he was also a powerful champion of Special Olympics athletes and programs, both nationwide and right here in B.C.
With his influential and generous advocacy work, Meeker helped change the way our province and country see individuals with intellectual disabilities. He was also been a vital supporter of Special Olympics BC – Campbell River athletes and programs for many years, championing them and lending his name and time to their annual golf tournament that has raised more than $750,000 in its more than 30-year history.
Meeker made a significant impact on the Special Olympics movement – an impact that has not only benefited our athletes, programs, and society over the past 40 years, but one that will continue to help change lives long into the future. He was inducted into the SOBC Hall of Fame in 2016 in recognition of the difference he has made in the lives of so many.
Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Howie’s wife Leah and many loved ones.
A four-time Stanley Cup winner with the Toronto Maple Leafs and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Meeker was inducted into the Order of Canada in May 2011. Meeker served in World War II before winning four Cups and the Calder Trophy with the Leafs. He went on to expand his renown as a Member of Parliament, a hockey coach, and a noted broadcaster with a 30-year career. In his retirement, he lived in Parksville for many years with his wife Leah; both were both big-hearted supporters of Special Olympics and served as patrons of the B.C. Guide Dog Services.
Meeker’s comments in 2016 upon his induction into the SOBC Hall of Fame:
“Special Olympics is a special group of people who … go through life happy as can be,” said Meeker, who was “Howie” to all the SOBC – Campbell River athletes. “They’re a really fun bunch, and some of them have immense talent.”
“I’m very, very excited to become a member of the Special Olympics BC Hall of Fame,” Meeker said. “Over the last 45 years, people involved in this wonderful operation at every level coast to coast have made the experience something extra special in our lives, Leah and I. Much of our appreciation of what we have, and how lucky we are to have it, comes from the Special Olympics athletes. I think we owe them, they don’t owe us, quite honestly. If you’re sitting there in your automobile or reading the newspaper and you’re thinking there’s something missing in your life, and if you’ve got an extra buck or two, or better still a few hours a week to get involved, guaranteed you’ll hit the motherlode with Special Olympics. Yes indeed, the sun does shine 24 hours a day, and you will have fun.”