A Greater Trail legend passed away last week, leaving a hole in the community that can never be filled or replaced … and residents wouldn’t have it any other way.
Francis Steward “Cal” Hockley passed away on Thursday, Dec. 10, at the age of 89. He was predeceased by his wife Gloria, who passed 15 months earlier.
He left three sons, a daughter, 13 grandchildren, and one great grandchild to mourn his passing, and a legacy that will endure for as long as the Silver City.
Hockley’s grandson Jacob (Jake) Swanson, vice president of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, says it has been, understandably, a difficult time for the Hockleys, Swansons, and extended family.
Hockley had been living independently so his passing was sudden and unexpected.
“A week ago, I thought he was going to push 100,” said Jake. “He was driving himself around, cooking cleaning, eating, the whole nine yards. So it shows you how fast things can change.”
But having Papa Cal as a grandfather, Jake says he couldn’t ask for a better role model.
“He was my inspiration for being a realtor,” said Jake. “He was a realtor for about 20 years.”
Cal may be best known for his success on the ice, leading the Smoke Eaters to a ‘61 World Hockey Championship and the ‘62 Allan Cup titles, yet, as a man and citizen of Greater Trail, he was known for much more.
Hockley was a member of Kiwanis for almost 50 years, and committed to the community and a myriad of organizations.
As one of a growing team of grandchildren, Jake’s favourite memories as a child was to visit his grandparents.
“They use to have a house in Glenmerry and I would go there for sleepovers as a little kid, and that was a regular routine,” said Swanson. “You go to Gramma’s and Papa’s and you get treated like a king – pop and treats and staying up late watching movies, and breakfast in the morning.”
Not to mention the many hockey stories.
“There’s that and just listening to his stories of all the different hockey experiences from when he was a 16-17 year old kid moving away from home to play hockey in Lethbridge, to playing in New York, then moving back and playing with Kimberley, and getting a job and moving to Trail because Cominco had plants in both towns.
“And of course, his stories of going overseas, he definitely had a few.”
Cal was a fixture at the Smoke Eaters games and longtime supporter of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks. The commitment was passed on through the generations as grandson Sam Swanson captained Beaver Valley in two of his five seasons, and is one of only four Hawks to have his jersey retired.
The Trail Historical Society and City of Trail marked the 50th anniversary of the ‘61 Trail Smoke Eaters in 2011 with a special screening of ‘For the Love of the Game: A Century of Hockey in Trail B.C.’ at the Royal Theatre, and Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs officially proclaimed March 12 as ‘61 Smoke Eaters Day.
Despite the seminal win at the World’s, Hockley was even more proud that he and his ‘61 teammates were vital in the formation of Old Timers hockey in Canada.
He also helped organize a reunion for the team’s 55th anniversary in 2016, which brought together nine of the original members of the iconic team including Norm Lenardon, Harold Jones, Don Fletcher, Gerry Penner, Ed Cristofoli, Harry Smith, Walt Peachosh and Dave Rusnell.
For Cal, a final nod to the last amateur team from Canada to win the World Championship.
The image of Hockley and the ‘C’ will ever be present on the mural on the Trail Memorial Centre, a testament to his leadership and successful hockey career. Yet, his legacy will always be a life well lived and a family loved.