Rod Fonteyne left behind a formidable, half-century legacy in Fort St. John’s hockey community. Fonteyne died on May 3, 2017, and friends, family and athletes gathered to celebrate his life on Sept. 16.
“I’ll miss hockey chats with him while he nibbles on his fries and gravy,” said Fort St. John Senior Flyers President Paul van Nostrand with a smile.
Van Nostrand officiated the service at the packed Royal Canadian Legion, and Gary Reeder gave the eulogy. A video followed showing pictures of Fonteyne’s long time with the Flyers and the game of hockey, set to the music he adored—piano driven ‘50s songs.
“He was just an incredible person, waiting for us to be back from the road games, and never missed a game at home,” said Lee Hartman, general manager of the Flyers. “He was always showing up in the dressing room with a box of ribs after the games.”
Fonteyne, born in Wetaskawin, Alta., came to Fort St. John in 1961 to be a player-coach for the Flyers after stints playing hockey in Medicine Hat, Ponoka, Red Deer, and Wetaskawin.
When he was presented with the offer to play for the Fort St. John Flyers, his first words were, “where the hell is that?” Reeder recalled.
Fonteyne was the player-coach for the Flyers for 11 seasons, winning seven championships during that span. He played with the Flyers until 1976, and remained part of the team every year until he died.
“I’ll remember his 11 p.m. phone calls to see how we did on road games, and I’ll remember how proud he was when he hoisted the Allen Cup in 2010,” van Nostrand said.
“He said, ‘We are the champions of the Dominion of Canada.’”
Van Nostrand described Fonteyne as a humble gentleman who gave much of himself and had an infectious smile.
The Flyers will have a commemorative patch on their jerseys this year to remember Fonteyne, and his number 12 jersey will be enshrined in the North Peace Arena.
“It’ll be a shock those first few games when he’s not at the window watching and cheering the boys on,” Hartman said.
Van Nostrand joked that he will also miss Fonteyne being late to executive meetings, and said he will be missed by everyone at the Legion, the North Peace Arena, and the city of Fort St. John.