Inducted 1999 Curling, Community Service
John has been involved extensively in community work over a number of years. Whether it is Hamlet duties - trimming trees, mowing lawns; Gray Memorial Hall - parking arrangements, sweeping stairs and walk; or Gray Recreation Centre - everything from putting in ice, to tracking mousetraps, to cleaning toilets. John was the recipient of the Royal Bank Hockey Leader award recognizing his long-term contributions to the rink that began as a 12-year old helping to ‘put in the ice’ as well as a Volunteer Medal Recipient from the Government of Saskatchewan.
RBC Hockey Leader Nomination submission Jan 30 2007:
The year was 1936 when Johnny Ford began his ice-making career at the age of 12. 70 years later he is still at it (with a couple years off while he served in World War II). Johnny has been a dedicated supporter of all things rink, hockey and curling. We cannot just define him as a Hockey Leader, but as a Rink Leader.
We have a natural ice facility that is supported by community commitment. Our zamboni driving, concession operation, facility management and fundraising capacities are all volunteer positions (all categories of which Johnny has been involved in). The rink itself was built with volunteer labour (the Winter Works Grant of 1974). Johnny Ford leads the way in hours spent to insure all rink activities have a safe, fun and friendly atmosphere. You could speak to any of the last few generations of hockey players in our community and odds on Johnny Ford has opened the rink for them so a bit of shinny could be played. The rink being ready and open for any activity is a tribute to Johnny’s dependability. It seems he is always there! Johnny is an approachable character. All ages know that he is the go-to guy. People from 4-years up, ask Johnny first! No matter the question; dressing rooms to open, hot chocolate served, rink lights on, etc. (the list actually does go on and on). Johnny has seen a lot of changes, and yet remains true to his believe of giving to your community. For him, that has been a behind the scenes devotion to a facility that is the hub of our community. Whether the participants are the surrounding farm families or the more recent commuter population that has chosen Gray for their home they are all friends of Johnny. In small town Saskatchewan (and probably other parts of Canada too) community life revolves around the rink.
Johnny has initiated and devoted himself to many fundraising activities throughout the years. He never hesitates to take on something new (especially if it is good for the rink). We host Friday night dinners and Sunday morning breakfasts that average over 80 attendees each event. The money raised goes towards rink upkeep and ensures that hockey and rink fees remain at a reasonable rate. Johnny is always looking for new recruits and inviting new members of the community to get involved. Members of our community (and surrounding towns too) are amazed by and appreciate Johnny’s dedication to the rink. Comments often include the ‘what would we do without Johnny’? His contribution over the years (70!) cannot be measured or defined as anything but amazing. His legacy will be a community rink that will be forever supported by true volunteerism; everybody participates and everybody gains. We appreciate this opportunity to have Johnny’s contributions recognized in a tangible way. He is averse to public recognition but continues day after day (he drops by the rink every day, summer and winter, to ensure things are as they should be) to volunteer his time and energy.
Johnny and his wife Elsie have just decided to move to an apartment in Regina and he insists the half hour commute will not deter him from his duties. Gray is a small town (just over 100 people) within commuting distance of Regina. We also have the support of several other small communities (Bechard, Estlin, Riceton and Rowatt) that have lost services and facilities over the years. It is in large part thanks to leaders like Johnny Ford that cultivate young volunteers and community participants that our rink (and all activities therein) has survived. We look forward to celebrating with our Hockey Leader Johnny Ford!
Please help us in honouring his 70th year of rink duties. The Gray hockey community would be thrilled with an influx of cash. We work hard to subsidize player fees, coaching clinics and referee clinics but could more actively recruit and support our volunteers. The arena could always use a few upgrades including dressing room enhancements that would allow more acceptable tournament conditions and I know the Gray Hounds (8 and under team) would appreciate heaters on the player benches (maybe the senior teams would too!) and some newer goalie equipment. The ultimate prize would be to be able to honour Johnny with a sign FORD ARENA!