Montrose park renamed to honour local pioneer

Ballpark officially becomes Bernie McMahon Field this Saturday

It was justly decided in early March, that the Montrose ball park would be renamed  “Bernie McMahon Field” after a Montrose resident who left a legacy of humility and dedication to his community.

A ceremony to honor this remarkable man will be held during Montrose Family Fun Days. The ceremony will take place at noon this coming Saturday in Montrose.

Cassandra McMahon Miller, Bernie’s granddaughter, will be accepting a plaque on behalf of the McMahon family and will share some thoughts about her grandfather. Her grandfather was her hero and she, as well as many others, believed that his life story should be heard and was deserving of an honor such as this.

Montrose Mayor Griff Welsh and council agreed that the Montrose ballpark was a place to always remember Bernie McMahon and all he did for his community.

“It was a unanimous decision by council that we change the name of the park after a submission from the family,” said Welsh. “Bernie was a respected member of the community so it was not a hard decision.”

His name only has to be mentioned and those who were lucky enough to know him or have met him remember a saintly man with a wide and genuine smile and a heart that never ceased to give to his family and community.

John James Bernard “Bernie” McMahon grew up in an orphanage in New Westminster during the depression. He was a little boy who found love in sports, and especially baseball.

“Bernie felt that sports were something that brought people together,” recalled grandson Jesse McMahon.

Bernie was a pitcher and fittingly, his childhood idol was Bob Feller, a Hall of Fame pitcher who made it to the Major League at the age of 16.

“I also remember the joy on his face when I

took him to see the Dodgers and the Mets at Shea Stadium,” said son Patrick McMahon.

Bernie’s love and appreciation for sports drove him to start the Pony League, Little League and Babe Ruth League in the Beaver Valley.

Many remember him packing a bunch of rambunctious 11-year-old boys into his Volkswagen van and driving them to a baseball game in Fruitvale.

“He did that a lot,” noted Patrick.

He knew then, that all kids, despite where they came from deserved the opportunity to love and benefit from organized sports.

“Nobody that wanted to play ball was left out,” said Jesse McMahon.

Bernie was an advocate for all those in need. He gave decades to others through the Lions Club and the Hospice Society in Trail.

Fruitvale’s Carol Schlender finds it hard to talk about her friend that she misses so dearly. She was moved by all that she had learned from Bernie when they worked together at the Hospice Society.

“I learned to fight for what you believe in.  I learned dedication to a cause. I learned compassion and empathy. I learned that you can keep going even when you think you have nothing left to give. I learned about the power of faith. I learned about humility.”

Bernie found strength in his own life by giving to those who had no strength left.  Many are moved by how despite the hardships he overcame in his life, he chose to leave a positive footprint on this earth.

“He was patient and calm,” said Jesse McMahon.

These attributes allowed him to be simply, a gentle hand to many who needed him at their darkest moments.

He was a man that chose to run towards challenges; whether it was working towards unionization at Cominco or simply finding the time and energy to sit by a stranger’s bedside at the end of a long days work.

He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, that taught his children and those around him “You can do anything.”