Flames mourns loss

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

The greetings when running into Doc Seaman at the Saddledome or the golf course during a charity tournament would come with a quiet hello.

And, as Mike Vernon pointed out, a not-so-quiet handshake.

"His handshakes, always so firm," said the former Flames goaltender who could call Darryl K. Seaman a friend for more than 20 years.

"The guy was tough as nails."

As word spread among the Flames community of the loss of one of the Calgary club's original owners came sadness, but also the incredible joy of having met a giant of a man.

Seaman died yesterday at the age of 86.

Doc Seaman, along with his brother Byron (B.J.), Harley Hotchkiss, Norm Green, Ralph Scurfield and Norman Kwong, joined forces with Nelson Skalbania back in the spring of 1980 to bring the Flames to Calgary.

But that was only a small part of the picture friends and former players were reminiscing about.

He was a successful businessman, still very active in the city's oil and gas community.

He worked tirelessly for charity, be it for the development of hockey rinks and parks, such as the beautiful Seaman Stadium in Okotoks, by helping war veterans and even conservation by purchasing the OH Ranch and preserving it as a heritage site.

And he was a war hero, who spent five years with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War.

Stories from that part of his life finally came to light for so many during a recent roast.

Wanna know tough?

There was the time he was wounded, shot in the leg, but was the only pilot capable of flying the plane back with several others who'd been wounded.

Or the time he was able to return safely from a mission, without instrumentation.

"Those are stories you make movies about," marvelled former Flame Perry Berezan.

"It was great to hear those at the roast because I knew so little about him."

Which is one of the most amazing traits Seaman had during his 86 years.

For all he's done for Calgary and the surrounding area, and hockey across the country, it's always been with so little fanfare.

"His philanthropy is a book all upon itself," said Flames president Ken King.

"I can't think of anyone who epitomized and lived his character, value and ethics more appropriately than Doc did."

Which also included, at the right time, a fiery side.

"He was so competitive," Vernon said.

"Even when you played golf or hockey with him, he wanted to win.

"Oh yeah, he was quiet, but he was as competitive as they'd come.

"Soft spoken, but when he spoke, people listened, because everything he did was by example and that was something that rubbed off on you."

Ultimately, though, the story of Doc Seaman will be about legacy.

For so many years, and so quietly, he has done so much for the city, and with so little fanfare.

"He didn't get headlines for all the things he did," said Vernon, knowing Seaman never wanted them, either. "But that was the way he believed you did things, quietly but get them done.

"Just a great human being."

Added Berezan: "Doc wasn't going to brag about all the things he'd done.

"He was always just there with a smile on his face and firm handshake.

"He always wanted to make you feel good about being part of the Flames organization.

"He wanted you to feel good about being a Calgarian."

"I hope everybody in the coming days gets to hear more and more about him.

"He deserves it."


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