Beloved husband of Penny (Smith) for 50 years. Dearest father of Melanie and Andrew. Much loved brother of Heather (Harvey) and Barbara (Bob), and brother-in-law of Elizabeth, Sally (Gerald), Malcolm (Maribeth), Peter predeceased (Anita), Pat (Randy), Elsa (Darrell), and John (Surb). Cherished Uncle of many nieces and nephews. Adored pack leader to numerous canines, felines and one particularly devious iguana. Predeceased by his parents Len and Mabel Baird.
Over his lifetime, Mel split his interests and contributions between education and athletics in both his career and his volunteerism. While attending the University of Waterloo he was a member of the team that developed the CAHA National Coaches Certificate Program and was a level five instructor with the program for decades. While completing his Masters of Science in Administration at the University of Alberta, Mel was a graduate teaching assistant. He was a teacher of geography and physical education at the high school level in Ontario. This was followed by a stint as a Sport and Recreation Consultant for the Province of Ontario based in Toronto which quickly led to a Consultant position with the Ministry of Education in Adult Education and Recreation based in Sudbury. In 1987, Mel became Director of the Central Algoma Board of Education, and when this organization merged with the Sault Ste. Marie Board of Education, he became Senior Supervisory Officer for the new Algoma District School Board. After a devoted and accomplished career, he retired in 2001, having left his mark on many programs and connected with countless people, young and old, helping to improve their lives. His family soon learned that retirement didn’t mean ceasing his work as Mel filled his former work hours with more volunteerism, sporting and coaching activities as well spending more time with his children.
Mel was a sportsman all throughout life. He participated in aquatic sports including swimming, diving and water skiing and would go on to spend many of his summers during his university years traversing thousands of miles (on gravel roads) in Northern Ontario as a Supervisor and Examiner for the Red Cross Society and Royal Life Saving Society. Mel played hockey and football in high school and was a member of a provincial championship team. During his time at the University of Alberta, he picked up racquet sports including tennis, racquetball and badminton, which he continued for the rest of his life. After high school, he traded football for golf, avidly hitting the links where he practiced finesse over power, earning himself several hole-in-one accolades.
But his greatest sporting passion lay in hockey, and Mel’s grace on the ice was truly impressive. As a boy, Mel’s skates would go on the minute he got home from school in the winter and with his friends he would hit the outdoor rink in the park behind his house (which his father, Len, lovingly made and maintained each year) and play hockey until they were called in for dinner. But that was not the end of the game and Mel would walk on the carefully laid out path of newspapers to the dinner table, eat, and then retrace his way back to the rink. The game would continue late into the evening, only ending when Len turned the floodlights out and the group would be forced to make their way home. Mel continued to play hockey through university at both Waterloo and U of A. In Mel’s tenure with the Golden Bears they won a university championship under Coach Clare Drake. After University he coached hockey for teams from Sudbury to Sault Ste Marie. He helped conduct fall training camps for NHL teams, notably Chicago and Winnipeg, and helped develop future draft picks through his skills training with Huron Hockey School, Grand Bend, ON. He also assisted with skills development for the Sault Greyhounds, particularly focusing on skating and stride technique under coach Paul Theriault.
Mel loved helping children, and he demonstrated this in his community as Chair of the Bruce Mines and Plummer Additional Recreation Committee. He spent many years as the Chairman of the Board for Algoma Family Services (AFS) helping children with mental health issues. He helped fundraise for AFS through the annual “Golf Fore Kids” charity golf tournament. He coached local youth hockey, softball, and soccer. He was a wonderful role model and a great mentor to young people in Bruce Mines, reaching out to them in a kind and caring manner while incorporating a demand for respect for others as well as fun. He made the world around him a better place and made forever memories for those with whom he came in contact.
The family wishes to express its deepest gratitude to the wonderful staff at Extendicare Maple View, especially the Ranger Lake Unit and the extensive Activities Program team. A heartfelt thank you to Malcolm Smith, Allen Prodan, and Jim Field for their faithful friendship and visitation.
In accordance with Mel’s wishes, there will be no visitation or services. A family celebration of life will be held in summer 2020. Arrangements entrusted to Northwood Funeral Home Cremation and Reception Centre (942 Great Northern Road, 75-945-778).
In lieu of flowers, those who wish to may make donations to The Alzheimer’s Society, Algoma Family Services or the Sault Ste Marie Humane Society.