WINNIPEG - Ken Hildahl was being remembered Saturday as a man who was committed to making his community better.
The former Winnipeg Football Club chairman died suddenly on Friday of an apparent heart attack at the age of 61, and his passing was felt across the league.
“On behalf of our board of governors and the entire Canadian Football League, I want to express our deep sadness at the sudden passing of our friend and longtime colleague Ken Hildahl,” CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said in a press release. “As a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers board of directors for 10 years, and its chairman for five, Ken epitomized the devotion to community, passion for our game and pride in country that drive the CFL.
“His contributions to his beloved Bombers are evident today, in the tremendous success the organization is enjoying this year and the bright future it can look forward to in a new stadium.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hildahl family, and his many friends in Manitoba and across Canada.”
Hildahl joined the Bomber board in 2000 and became its chairman in 2005. He extended his stay, not leaving his post until the spring of 2010, to help get the new stadium built.
“Ken was very committed and devoted to all matters pertaining to our club,” Bombers president Jim Bell said Saturday. “In my view he was a consensus builder as a board chairman, and he cared very deeply for the Bombers and was also a very passionate fan.
“He remained on as chairman of the board past his term as he was committed to seeing the new stadium project become a reality.”
Hildahl was appointed president and CEO of the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission in June 2009. He also served as executive vice-president of Manitoba Blue Cross and was the director of operations for the Manitoba Government Employees Union.
Those who worked with him will miss his friendliness and generosity.
“Just a super guy,” Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice said. “He was still in office when I was named (head coach), because he was one of the first people I got to meet. He was a good man, a super man. It’s very upsetting.”
Added Bell: “He always made time for me, and I respected him greatly. Our staff is deeply saddened by his sudden passing. We will miss him dearly.”