Ex-Leafs president passes on

GEORGE GROSS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

The Quiet Man slipped away at a Cleveland hospital last week.

George Mara was a former president of the Maple Leafs, and an Olympic gold medallist in 1948 in St. Moritz, Switzerland as captain of the RCAF Flyers hockey team. The Toronto resident died after complications from surgery. He was 84.

Mara also was chairman of the Olympic Trust and a respected businessman.

Mara enjoyed talking about the Olympic triumph: "It was a last-minute thing. The Flyers had all the good players during the war, but those players went back to their respective NHL teams. Actually, during the war the Flyers had a better team than any NHL club.

"One day I went down to Maple Leaf Gardens to pick up my tickets when Foster Hewitt's father convinced me to join the Olympic team. Three of us civilians -- Wally Halder and Murray Dowey were the other two -- joined."

When they reached Switzerland, they found the Swiss and Czechoslovakians had strong teams and, indeed, Czechoslovakia won the silver medal and Switzerland the bronze. The U.S. had two teams entered and both were cocky. Canada clobbered one of the teams 12-3, with Halder scoring six goals and Mara five.

In spite of his talent, Mara played only briefly for the New York Rangers after starring for the Toronto Staffords but couldn't stay away from cheering for the Leafs. He eventually was named one of the Silver Seven who ran the Leafs in 1957 after founder Conn Smythe stepped down. In June 1969, Mara took over the presidency of the club from Stafford Smythe.

During World War II, Mara served as lieutenant with the Royal Canadian Navy.

Mara was president and director of William Mara Co. Ltd. He also was treasurer of the Ontario Society for Crippled Children and a director of the Ontario division of the Canadian Cancer Society.

He leaves his son, George Mara Jr., and daughter, Diane.


Videos

Photos