On December 6, well known local sports personality Ted Patey (right) passed away, after a five-year battle with a rare neurological disease.
One of his good friends was veteran sports reporter Don Power, who volunteered at Cable 9 with Patey, co-hosting Amateur Sports Report (and other local sporting events). Power is also Chair of the Molson St. John's Athlete of the Year Committee, of which Patey was an honourary lifetime member.
I invited Power to write a tribute to his friend, as a guest column for this blog. Power kindly agreed. Here are his recollections of Ted Patey:
I remember the phone call like it was yesterday. Ted Patey called my office with some news, and it wasn't good.
It was in 2003 and Ted had long since returned to his hometown of Badger did anybody love their hometown more than he did? to live. On this day, he was delivering bad news.
After a few bouts of dizziness or off-balance episodes, he visited a doctor, who diagnosed a neurological disease. Ted, who probably had no idea of the medical name, called to say he was ill and his brain cells were slowly dying.
My initial reaction, on a Monday morning after another weekend of debauchery: "Geez Ted, so are mine."
Normally, Ted loved a laugh. This time he was serious. It was later discovered that Ted had Olivo Ponto Cerebellar Atrophy, a rare disease that causes degeneration of neurons in specific areas of the brain. Ted told me doctors said it would take 10-15 years to fully take hold of him, and it wasn't life threatening.
The diagnosis was wrong. After years of physical deterioration, Ted passed away Saturday at the age of 66.
The last time I sat with Ted was at his request. He was in St. John's for a doctor's appointment and asked his brother-in-law Kevin Simmonds to arrange for me, Gord Follett and Brian Rogers to come visit him, and have a few beers and chicken wings. I thought at the time, but quickly brushed away the idea, that this was Ted's way of saying good-bye, as though he'd never see us again.
(Normally, he would visit the doctor and return home quietly. I invited him to many St. John's athlete of the month luncheons or the annual Molson St. John's Athlete of the Year banquet, but he always rejected the invitation.)
I remember laughing, joking, talking and posing for photos. I watched with muted shock as he struggled to stand up. His knuckles were white from holding on to the chair while he did. We posed for pictures as quickly as we could, with the unspoken understanding that he couldn't stand for long.
Ted never mentioned anything about pain or suffering. He just wanted to have fun with some of his friends.
And Ted had a ton of friends. In life, we can be lucky if we each have a few friends. In the media world, you have lots of acquaintances. Ted had lots of friends.
I tried to visit him on about three or four occasions after that, but kept missing him. I remember one unannounced visit when I missed him by about 10 minutes, and his daughter Colleen said he'll cry when he gets home knowing I was by.
Truth be known, I was probably better off not seeing him, especially in his weakened condition. The Ted Patey I remember had the thick, curly black hair that was always impeccable (except during media hockey games, when it would poke out at all angles from his helmet), his colourful sweaters tucked tightly into jeans that were just as tight. He and I spent many an hour together, working on Cable 9 sports shows.
I say working, but it wasn't work when you were with Ted. And it certainly wasn't work for Ted. He had a full career, lastly with ADI Nolan Davis and Associates, as a lab engineer.
His love of sports journalism was a true hobby to him. He was never going to win any awards (who am I kidding, I wasn't either!) but you could see his passion and enthusiasm every day.
That's how Ted lived his life, full of passion and enthusiasm. But more importantly, I believe, is that any time you spent with Ted, you left feeling better about yourself and life.
A quote arrived in my inbox a few weeks back that I have on my Facebook page in honour of Ted: "People will forget the things you do and forget the things you say but they will always remember the way you made them feel."
Tuesday, I will be in Badger for the final tribute to my buddy. It will be sad I'm sure, but I bet it will also be filled with laughs.
Ted wouldn't want it any other way.
God speed, Ted.
- Don Power