October 17, 2003
Sun editorial: Hart of Calgary
Calgary has lost one of its most prominent citizens and colourful characters with the death of Stu Hart.
After more than half a century as the patriarch of a wrestling dynasty, Hart, 88, was a legendary figure in these parts.
From modest beginnings as an amateur wrestler and football player in Alberta during the '30s, he travelled to New York after the Second World War, where he got his start as a pro wrestler.
While his prowess as a grappler was undisputed, he made his real mark as an entrepreneur and promoter of the sport.
In 1951, Hart founded Stampede Wrestling, which produced some of the top stars of the ring and paved the way for the multimillion dollar wrestling industry that exists today.
Hart was honoured with the Order of Canada in 2001, but it's safe to say that Stu considered his family his greatest accomplishment.
Stu and his wife Helen, who died two years ago, presided over their ever-expanding brood and a throng of pro wrestlers from a rambling 20-room mansion on the hill overlooking Sarcee Trail.
Numbered among his 12 children are Bret "Hitman" Hart, one of the superstars of wrestling and Owen Hart, who died in a tragic WWF accident in 1999.
His son-in-law was wrestling star Davey Boy Smith, who died suddenly last year.
This first family of wrestling generated many headlines over the years and captured the imagination of generations of Calgarians.
Hart was a larger-than-life figure whose gruff personality and wrestler's physique turned heads wherever he went.
His son Bret, who writes a column for the Sun, describes his father as the "toughest man I've ever known."
But behind the gruff exterior was a loving father.
The strong hands that brought down the giants of wrestling were also capable of gently stroking a wounded bird.
Behind the wrestling legend was a man who was quick to assist others down on their luck and to pitch in for a good cause.
He was one of a kind.
As we remember the triumphs and tragedies, it's clear Calgary will never see another like him.