On June 28, a long shadow cast itself across Delton as word of Walter Gurba’s sudden passing spread through the community. Taken one day shy of his 83rd birthday, Wally was a fixture of this community since he first moved here with his wife Alvina in 1957.
Holding the role of president of Delton Community League for over 28 years, he was part of the group of residents that worked to build the league hall, which first opened in 1978.
He spent decades caring for that hall. I first met him when my family lived in Alberta Avenue and I would bring my sons over to the Delton rink to play shinny hockey. It was always a pleasure to talk with Wally over a hot chocolate while watching the kids skate. He had a deadpan sense of humour and took great joy in making you laugh out loud, especially if it took you a second to get the joke.
That rink meant the world to Wally, as it did to so many hundreds—no, thousands—of kids who skated on it over the past 30 or so years. He lovingly cared for the rink with the Zamboni that he scored at a bargain basement price from a decommissioned Sportex rink. He spent a good chunk of his “retirement” tinkering with that machine and positively glowed when he overheard the kids brag about having the best outdoor ice in the city.
After a house fire displaced my family from Alberta Avenue in 2007 and a house across the street from the rink came on the market, I snapped it up. As a single mom struggling to keep two young men on track (and not always succeeding, I’ll admit), that rink provided countless hours of recreation to a whole lot of kids that needed not only positive activities but also positive role models in their lives.
Wally’s tremendous contributions to our community have left a legacy that will be enjoyed for generations to come. With his family continuing the tradition of community service by remaining active on the community league board and as volunteers around the facility, it is clear the extended Gurba clan will carry on their gido’s commitment to making their little corner of the world a better place.
On a personal level, I would like to express my gratitude for the kindness he showed my children (as he did all children) for so many years as they were growing up and skating on that rink. It was my youngest who let me know that Wally had passed away and the grief in his voice was pretty hard to miss.
Walter was a grandfather figure for hundreds of kids like mine who didn’t have one in their lives and for that I will be eternally grateful.
My family and all of us here at Rat Creek Press wish to express our heartfelt condolences to Wally’s family. Thank you for sharing him with us. He’ll not be forgotten.
Featured Image: Walter Gurba with the Zamboni he used to make Delton’s excellent ice. | Karen Mykietka