Our next inductee ...was a skater...was a coach.....and one of the great equipment technicians and service provider in our country. His journey in life and skating was long and varied in experiences but delivered with such professionalism and kindness.
Jim passed away just about a year ago........People like Jim are rare and very special. They are not in the forefront.......they are not in the paper or on TV....they just religiously show up for work every day and make the lives of those around them....better.
Jim was born in Whitehorse in 1949 and soon after that moved with the family to Burnaby.
Jim passed his preliminary figures in 1961 and immediately fell in love with our sport. He was an accomplished competitive skater particularly in figures and while working with long time coach Jack Boyle and Dr Helmutt May..... Jim was the silver medallist in Junior Men at the 1968 Canadian Championships.
In 1971 Jim was hired as a principal skater by Ice Follies. Now.... Jim was not one to sit around for too long and so he gravitated toward comedy working with legendary Mr Frick ....and Jim being Frack of course.....and he also played a major role in the Funsters......now at the same time he began to date Diane......and as Diane told me...although Jim was costumed as a female skater and as she put it.....”comfortable in fishnets and lipstick......he was a hell of a man off the ice.
Jim also managed the show concessions...drove a show truck....and delivered all the travel trunks to the 104 cast members. Always exploring new ways to be involved. It is true that the comic photo of Jim dressed as a woman was the reason Jim and Diane were granted a green card for the United States
Well, that United States green card helped Jim in his post show career to get started in the skating business but leaving the show in 1974 because of a broken ankle Jim first moved back to Vancouver and began his coaching career at the Arbutus SC. Jim was 27 at the time and his first two students were 16 years old.....Eileen Murphy and Barb Irving.... Both very strong willed .......but in the end all gained and so now ....Jim’s coaching career had begun..
Diane stayed in the show during that time.......but the relationships was serious .......she told me a story that when she first brought Jim to meet her parents Jim was so incredibly stressed he brought a wing man former Canadian Champion from right here in BC......Jay Humphrey an incredible skater in his own right......well you see Diane’s dad was a hockey and baseball player.......well they immediately fell in love with Jim as had Diane....... and they married in August 1975
In 1976 both Jim and Diane were hired by the Kerrisdale SC but they both had a desire to start something new and so now...that Green Card came into play.....they moved to Houston Texas where Jim’s coaching career flourished and he was introduced to equipment repair and servicing and once again Jim kept growing professionally.
Between 1980 and 1982 Jim and Diane became proud parents of their beautiful children ....Mike an Nathalie....life was great. However...unforeseen...the owner of the rink became very ill and decided to close the arena.....well, now it was time to pack up the two young kids......pick up the dog.... And drive a U Haul with their life belongings .....7 days back to Canada.
Jim taught at North Surrey SC for two years but then the perfect fit opened up and he moved to the Sungod SC where he began his close working relationship with a wonderful person in Norman Grant. In addition to his on ice coaching in 1995 Jim took his sharpening and equipment service skills into the BC skating community by opening up the 7th Figure Skating Boutique. He found great satisfaction in providing support and guidance in one of the most important aspects for a skater....their equipment.
The business was so successful they decided to expand into a larger space and include hockey equipment and service as well. At the same in 2001 Jim was the skate technician at the World Championships in Vancouver.....Michelle Kwan’s heel had separated in warm up of the long program and in a patient and calm form Jim managed to put it together in mere minutes and Michelle went on to yet another World title.
Well, over numerous years old skating boutiques were expanding and new ones beginning to open and service to the Vancouver market became somewhat flooded.... so Jim and Diane decided to get out of the business. Jim’s first love was always coaching and he continued to work with close friend and collegue Norma Grant whom he adored.....who wouldn’t.
The true value of our contributions in life might be best represented by those who we did not know so well..... but who we unknowingly impacted in positive ways. I wish to read a letter written on March 4th, 2017 several months prior to the passing of Jim. Here is an unsolicited letter from a fellow coach.
Although we did not have the opportunity to work together for very long, the time I spent working alongside you was one of the true value as I learned many things from you. These things not only pertained to our sport, but I also learned about human interactions and how kindness, integrity and compassion are character features that bring out much better results in our interactions with others then many other approaches used in today’s society.
We learn so much from the people who have been there before us and I am happy I was able to be open enough in my observations to learn from the great work you conducted at the Sungod Skating Club. I hope one day that as a coach my work will also inspire others, but I wanted to let you know, as I probably never did, when we were part of the same team, you were a fabulous mentor for many of us and we thank you for all your contributions.
Best regards....Kevin Bursey
Ladies and gentlemen it is indeed an honour and pleasure to welcome into the Skate Canada BC Hall of Fame a true gentleman and builder of skating in BC Jim Reid