I've been in Chicago on a business trip the past week, and I was away from a computer. A lot happened that I will get to soon, but I want to make a point of mentioning that Jake Gaudaur passed away. I first met him in 1978. We met and spoke on the phone a number of times, and my dealings with him were a highlight of my life. So in memoriam, I would like to post Dan Ralph's entire obituary:
Former CFL commissioner dies
Gaudaur served from '68 to '84
By Dan Ralph, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pete Martin will forever remember Jake Gaudaur's tenure as CFL commissioner.
Gaudaur, who served as CFL commissioner from 1968 until 1984, died Tuesday in a Burlington, Ont., nursing home of prostate cancer. He was 87.
Martin was a linebacker with the Toronto Argonauts in the late 1960s when he received a letter personally signed by Gaudaur after being ejected from a game with the Ottawa Rough Riders.
"It was a polite letter from Jake informing me that I was being fined $75," Martin recollected Tuesday. "I still have it and smile when I read it because I didn't feel very good about what I had done.
"But I've always thought Jake was a very, very classy man. He was always very friendly and he always remembered who you were. He was an incredible commissioner who really helped make the CFL what it is today."
Gaudaur was born Oct. 5, 1920 in Orillia, Ont. His father, Jacob, was a professional rowing champion and while Jake Gaudaur did follow in his father's footsteps initially, he also played hockey and lacrosse before blazing his own trail in Canadian pro football.
"He was a very humble and modest man so he never spoke of his accomplishments," Diane Gaudaur said of her father. "I went through his scrapbooks a few weeks ago and I was quite stunned by all of his involvements.
"He was an accomplished athlete. But I don't think he was as great an athlete as he was an administrator because he commanded so much respect from people. It was hard to be rude to my father because he was such a gentle giant. He was certainly proud of his involvement with the CFL at all levels, even back to the early days."
Gaudaur played for the Hamilton Tigers (1940-1941, 1948-1949), Toronto Argonauts (1941), Toronto RCAF Hurricanes (1942), Toronto Indians (of the Ontario Rugby Football Union, 1945-'46), Montreal Alouettes (1947), Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1950-1951, 1953). He won Grey Cups as a player with the Hurricanes as well as his final season with the Ticats in '53.
He served as a director with the Ticats in '52 and was the club's president and general manager from 1954 to '67. During that time, Hamilton captured nine East Division titles and four Grey Cup crowns but Gaudaur never wanted to bring attention to that success, even in retirement.
Diane Gaudaur remembers a comment her father made to her after she bought him a marker for his walker.
"All I could find was a Curious George or a Tiger-Cat so I settled on Curious George," she said. "He said, 'I'm glad you didn't get the Tiger-Cat because it would look like I was drawing attention to myself.'
"That is my father."
Gaudaur, who served as a pilot in the Second World War, was named the CFL's fifth commissioner in 1968. During his term, Gaudaur was instrumental in keeping the league a Canadian entity and resisted American influence by ensuring it maintained its Canadian rules and regulations. He also took an active role in the boardroom, heading up the Player Pension Plan Advisory Board, the Management Council as well as the Rules Committee.
He was also a determined negotiator, a quality that put the CFL on a more solid financial footing thanks to the radio and television deals he brokered. It allowed the league to compete with the NFL for players such as Joe Theismann, who spurned the Miami Dolphins to sign with Toronto in the 1970s.
"The passing of Jake Gaudaur has left the CFL family with a heavy heart today," CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said in a statement. "Jake's leadership and dedication to the CFL throughout his career were a great service to our League and to the sport of Canadian football.
"While we mourn his passing, we also celebrate his life, his community leadership and all of his wonderful accomplishments. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Gaudaur family and all of Jake's friends and fans across the country."
Some of Diane Gaudaur's fondest recent memories of her father was his interaction with Bella, her four-year-old golden lab.
"It's my dog but he took it over," she said with a chuckle. "Every night we would go into his room and she'd jump on his bed and they would have a little fight.
"They would go through the motions, they'd both growl. It was quite wonderful.
"He loved this dog. This dog just kept him going. Every time she walked into his room, he'd give her heck like, "What are you doing here, madame?" He was very playful with her."
Gaudaur was inducted into both the Toronto Argonauts and Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1984 and was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1985. Gaudaur is also a member of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.
Gaudaur is survived by his wife, Isabel, three daughters and seven grandchildren.
Visitation will be held Friday at Smith Funeral Homes in Burlington from 3-5 p.m. ET and 7-9 p.m. A private family service will be held Saturday.
Edited by GA Russell, 08 December 2007 - 03:25 AM.