Rinks across Greater Sudbury will seem a little more empty this week. Don “Doc” Cholmondeley, a legendary figure in the local hockey scene, passed away Sept. 4.
Condolences have begun to flood into the Lougheed's Funeral Home website for a man whose love of the game of hockey was as well known as the funny stories he loved to tell or the love he had for his family, especially his grandchildren.
Cholmondeley came to Sudbury from Nova Scotia when he was 11. He spent 31 years working for Falconbridge and was a longtime deacon at the First Baptist Church. He was also a board member of Teddy Bear Day Care, which is operated by the church.
But it was Doc's involvement in local hockey for which he is best known. A trainer, and later an equipment manager, he spent much of his hockey life volunteering for the Rayside Balfour Sabrecats. He also spent nine years with the Sudbury Wolves.
Doc was inducted into the Valley East Sports Hall of Fame in 2007, the same year he was part of the Sudbury Wolves team that won the Eastern Conference championship.
Stew Kernan, the voice the Wolves on the radio, remembers Doc's stories and the impact he had on players.
“I spent hundreds of hours on the Wolves bus with Doc and wouldn't have got through some of those long road trips without Doc's stories -- he certainly saw it all,” Kernan said. "There aren't many hockey players who touched Sudbury ice without having some contact with Doc.
“For many, he was like a second grandfather -- and that was evident by the number of players who kept in contact with him ... including many who went on to play in the NHL."
Former NHLer and Sudbury Wolves head coach Mike Foligno left a touching tribute on the Lougheed website. In particular he thanked Gail Cholmondeley, Doc's wife of 45 years, for lending her husband to hockey.
“I jokingly would introduce him to our players at the start of training camp as my dad,” Foligno wrote. “It always got a chuckle from everyone, but in reality, that is what he was to so many of us that worked with him.
“Doc was also a great storyteller. If you were lonely, he would make you feel at home. If you misbehaved, he would give you a sermon, and if you needed help, he would always be there with a helping hand or offer sound advice.”
A funeral service for Doc will be held at First Baptist Church in Garson on Saturday at 10 a.m. He will be interred at the Valley East Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations to First Baptist Church Memorial Fund would be appreciated.
Doc leaves behind his wife, Gail, and children Andrew (Kristen) and Sara (Denis DesForges). He also leaves behind his grandchildren, Cynthia and Eleanor DesForges, and Katelyn, Isla and Emerson Dove (predeceased) Cholmondeley.