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Publication: Globe and Mail, The
Issue: 8 February 2008, page L6
Title: MICHAEL VERZUH (Lives Lived)
Web Link: link
Sportsman, grandparent, parent, teacher, proud citizen. Born Aug. 9, 1909, in Grand Forks, B.C. Died Nov. 4, 2007, in Trail, B.C., of a stroke, aged 98.
February 8, 2008
Michael Verzuh was a sports legend in British Columbia's southern interior. He had a proud reputation as the man who taught people to skate, ski, curl, golf and ballroom dance.
The youngest son of Eastern European immigrants, Mike was the last of 13 children. He worked at the huge Cominco mining and smelting operation in Trail, B.C., for 36 years before retiring to become the founding professional of the Castlegar, B.C., golf course at age 60.
Golf became his retirement vocation and a passion that his first wife, Helen, who died in 1975, shared and sometimes cursed as a golfer's widow. His second wife, Pat, also showed a keenness for the game, as well as taking a swing on the dance floor or facing the challenge of beating him at cribbage.
Mike was respected for his sense of fair play and love of life. Whatever he attempted he did with determination and sportsman-like good will, an example he set for his children, Ron and Niki, and his grandchildren.
Well-liked in the community, Mike was a constant civic booster. He co-founded the local golf club, the figure skating club and the curling club.
Mike was honoured in 2004 when the City of Castlegar presented him with its Sportsman of the Century award. He also won numerous gold medals in golfing competitions at the annual B.C. Seniors Games and at a world golfing competition in the United States.
At 96, Mike skipped his curling team to a coveted eight-
ender, said to be like a hole-in-one in golf. The feat almost won him a place in the Guinness book of records as the oldest skip to record this achievement.
A regular on the slopes of Red Mountain ski hill in Rossland, B.C., Mike served on some of the first ski patrols. His wooden skis were dubbed Nip and Tuck.
His competitive spirit was in evidence at the local fall fair, where he often entered his best effort in the squash-growing category. In 2006, his green thumb helped sprout a 28-kilogram squash that won him second prize. He grumbled for a moment that it should have placed first, then accepted his prize.
Refusing to "think old" or lament aging, Mike golfed until a few weeks before his death, scoring just slightly over his age. A week before he died, he could be seen mowing his lawn. His neighbours loved him and often watched in awe as he jumped on his snow blower to clear their driveways.
His lifelong practice of playing the game fairly and with enthusiasm - in sports and in life, win or lose - will be his legacy.
Ron Verzuh is Mike's son.