Roger Dubielewicz volunteered for the Columbia Valley Rockies for nearly 40 years before his passing in January. The key figure of the Rockies organization was recognized by the KIJHL with the Outstanding Service Award to open its annual general meeting at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort on June 17.
Receiving the Outstanding Service Award plaque on behalf of Roger was his son Scott Dubielewicz and granddaughter Gwen, who were presented with it by KIJHL commissioner Jeff Dubois and District of Invermere mayor Al Miller.
Rockies president Brett Holt said Roger’s recognition sets the standard for that award.
“What it has done is it has set a standard for the league on the type of individual and effort that is going to be recognized and acknowledged and Roger magnifies that. It’s obviously a huge honour for us and the Rockies to see Roger achieve it.”
Known as a legend for selling 50/50 tickets, Roger passed away during the season. In a presentation to recognize Roger, Miller spoke about him and said that Roger got involved with the Rockies in 1987 after moving to Invermere in 1983.
“Roger’s guidance throughout the years with the Rockies organization has been incredible,” said Miller. “There have been many club executives, board members, volunteers, coaches, trainers and players that came and went here at the Eddie Mountain Arena, but Roger was the constant, always here and available.
“Sharing advice or some of his past history of the Rockies was invaluable,” continued Miller. “Supporting youth was just part of his DNA. And how thankful we are for his commitment to hockey and sport in general.”
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An immigrant from Poland who grew up in a small town in Saskatchewan, Scott said the hockey and curling rink is where the real sense of community would come for his father.
“I think being able to give back to our club maybe brought a little bit of home out here for him,” said Scott, adding that his father didn’t learn to speak English until he was in Grade 1. “It was a way for him to feel closer to home. That was what he got back. He always did enjoy putting a smile on someone’s face after they won a 50/50.”
When asked how his dad would have reacted if he was here to receive the honour, Scott said “he might be a little embarrassed.”
“He didn’t ever want to seek that out. He always wanted to be there and involved, but he wasn’t really comfortable being singled out in any way,” added Scott. “He didn’t want the attention at all. He wanted to put the time in and he would appreciate it.”
Scott said his father was a really kind man. Roger worked for CP Rail and everyone that ever worked for him, he had a different approach as far as how to motivate guys that worked for him.
“He was a gentleman and kind,” said Scott.
The time he gave to the Rockies also came from a love of the hockey team, “love of the sport, and to kind of live vicariously through his sons and take part in the community and the actual activities through watching us succeed and take part as player and coaches and hockey staff.”
A close friend of Roger’s, Sandy Cook, shared her story about him.
“I’ve known Roger for over 30 years, and have had the honour of being his sidekick on many of his fundraising projects,” said Cook. “He was on the Rockies executive and many committees over the years. He did 50/50 for all the Rockies games (He did let me do one for him when he went to watch Wade play. I was honoured.) Never in the 21 years did I have to wonder if the tickets would be ready for me when I got there. He always had them counted, ripped and ready to go. It was very hard to say no to him when he was out there selling. He was a huge presence and didn’t even have to open his mouth. People just knew they were buying from him.”
As a score keeper, he had the time sheets all written up ready to go and the game pucks in the bucket, frozen and ready to go. He quite often gave a little spectator money to enter the puck toss out of the goodness of his huge heart.
Roger played a big part in putting on some of our alumni gatherings and events. He helped with collecting door prizes, organizing dances and dinners to host alumni. Most Rockies alumni have fond memories and thoughts of the organization. And it was he who made many of them feel at home and special.