The hockey community will miss Wynne Dempster who died recently after battling cancer since earlier this year.
Graham Parsons, Sylvan Lake resident, and Dempster were once roommates. He knew him through hockey and calls him “a humble guy, who touched many people and a guy with guts.”
Parsons said Tuesday, it’s not just the hockey community, but the wider community will miss his former friend.
Born in 1951 and originally from Grimshaw, Alta., Dempster played junior hockey for the Swift Current Broncos of the WCHL in the 1968-69 season before joining the Red Deer Rustlers of the AJHL. He played two seasons with the Rustlers.
“What happened is he got the chance to play (tryout) junior hockey in Ponoka (in late 60’s), which is where I was playing, I was 17 and he was (about) 19,” Parsons recalled Tuesday.
After he got cut from the Ponoka team, Parsons drove him to Edmonton, which is where he was supposed to catch a bus back to Grimshaw.
“And about a week and a half later, all of a sudden, he shows up for tryouts in Red Deer (for the Rustlers).”
And that’s how Dempster’s career started.
In 1971 he helped the Rustlers win the Centennial Cup.
By the time Parsons went from playing for Ponoka to playing for Red Deer, Dempster started playing pro hockey.
He played for the Johnstown Jets in the EHL from 1971 to 1973, followed by Forth Worth Wings and Forth Worth Texans in the CHL, Johnstown Jets in the NAHL and Johnstown Wings in the NEHL ending his pro career in 1979.
After that, Dempster settled down in the Red Deer area.
“By this time I was the manager of the Red Deer Rustlers, around early 1980s, and our group hired him as a coach.”
The previous year, when Parsons was the manager, the team had won the Canadian Championship, which meant Dempster had a tough act to follow.
“Eventually he had to run the team himself, and he did a masterful job of being a general manager and coach in the mid to late 1980s.”
Apart from hockey, he was also well known in the fastball community in Red Deer, back in the time, Parsons said.
Dempster was also an avid golfer and was a member of the Red Deer Golf and Country Club.