Rideau iceman will be missed

JOE PAVIA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

The Rideau Curling Club has lost much of its heart and soul.

Longtime icemaker and club character Gerry Keeler died Saturday after a battle with cancer.

The club's only icemaker for the past 35 years, Keeler loved when his two Yorkshire terriers scampered around his ice, their little legs scrambling to maintain balance. His face beamed when the CBC featured the critters in their fifth-end break segment during the 2003 Canadian junior final.

Easter Saturday belonged to Keeler. His laid-back Icemen's Bonspiel featured athleticism of all sorts -- hits, sweeping, even ballet. Through it all, Keeler's impish grin mirrored the sparkle in his eyes.

Keeler engendered a loyalty not just to himself but his fellow icemakers. He hosted Friday ice technician "seminars" in his far from trendy, sometimes deafening, but oh so Keeler bunker in the Rideau's basement. His professional buddies were quick to help when the cancer took its toll.

Keeler was also fiercely loyal to his club. When the Rideau suffered a financial setback two decades ago, he took a voluntary pay cut. His unpaid hours, extra work and unstinting loyalty were not the stuff of heroes, but the stuff of a man who neither bragged nor sought the limelight. So it came as no surprise when Keeler was made an honorary life member of the Rideau last year.

Keeler's quick wit, however, would bring him into the limelight. When daughter Nathalie took a bartending job at another curling club, Keeler made sure to visit. If a patron didn't tip Nathalie, dad would find a way to point out that omission.

Our condolences are extended to wife Gisele, Nathalie and the rest of the family.

The funeral service is Friday at 11 a.m. at St Mark's Catholic Church, 160 Principale St. in Gatineau. A reception will follow at the Rideau.

ALL ABOUT SKILL: Guy Hemmings commended the competitors after the opening dinner Sunday for the Vision Impaired Canadian Curling Championship. "I've learned some things that I'm going to take with me to my provincials," he said. The action continues at the Ottawa until Friday ... Gatineau's Mike Rabey and David Joseph are part of the first deaf team to compete the Quebec men's championships this week.

ENTER NOW: The City of Ottawa Men's International Bonspiel begins March 11. Organizers hope to post the draw before the 'spiel begins. Visit www.cityofottawabonspiel.ovca.com.

OCA RESULTS: Gore Mutual school boy and school girl regionals: 1A -- Chris Lewis and Nicol McNiven; B -- Geoff Spruit and Shannon Harrington. Best Western intermediate men's and women's zones: 1A -- Kevin Baker and Jennifer Baker; B -- Al Solari and Sandra Chisholm; 2A -- Barry Mersereau and Carole Fujimoto; B -- Dave Windsor and Barb Kelly; 3A -- Leo Buckley and Deb Karbashewski; B -- Jim Guthmann and Susan Schmidt; 4A -- Jim Marshall and Sharon Leitch; B -- Don Whiteman and Toni Rutland. Tim Hortons colts and trophy zones: 1A -- Kevin Baker and Deborah Matthews; B -- Charles Wert. Junior mixed zones: 2A -- Scott Sagle and Rachel Homan. Bantam mixed zones: 2A -- Casandra Raganold and Tom Lepage.


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