Our much loved husband, father and friend, Vern, was born on January 4, 1922 in Calgary, Alberta and skated into the arms of our Heavenly Father on April Fool’s Day.
He began playing hockey as a youth, donning the goalie pads at age 15, and this became his lifelong passion.
At age 18, he began his professional career, playing senior hockey in Nanaimo, B.C., and then playing for San Francisco and the LA Raiders before coming to the Spokane Spartans in 1947.
During the 1948-49 season, he played for the Spokane Flyers, who that year won the United States Senior Hockey Championship.
He hung up his skates in 1950, to pursue a career in sales with Thompson Tile, where he worked for many years.
After the Five Mile Ice Arena opened in the ‘60’s, he laced up his skates again as a youth hockey referee, and he also helped organize the Spokane Curling Club.
Though not wearing skates for curling, at least he was on the ice.
Vern, known to many as “Red” or “Kneesh,” did not play hockey again until he helped organize the Spokane Oldtimers Hockey Association in the 70s, who played in tournaments in Canada, California, and once in Europe.
He served as their first president and secretary for many years, staying active even after doctor’s orders ended his time on the ice at age 80.
Vern met his wife, Frances, in Spokane and they celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary this last Valentine’s Day.
Together, they raised two children, enjoyed the many parties with hockey and curling friends, traveled, and never passed up the chance to tear up the dance floor.
A wonderful dancer, if Fran got tired, he never lacked for a partner.
A committed family man and friend, with a contagious sense of humor and incredible zest for life, he was always there if needed, even as his Parkinson’s disease chipped away at his abilities.
He became a naturalized U.S. Citizen in 1996.
Cheers to you, Vern, you played the game well.
He is survived by his loving wife, Frances, his two children, Sandy (Steve) Smart of Chattaroy, WA., and Scott (Betsy) Kneeshaw of Medical Lake, WA.
Vern thoroughly enjoyed his five grandchildren, Paul (Jenell) Smart, Patrick Smart, and Danielle, Kyle and Laura Kneeshaw.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Stanley.
We will forever miss your smile and quick wit, but take comfort in knowing that you accepted Christ into your life at a PromiseKeepers convention, and that we will see you again.
Your physical chains have been unfettered and you can skate again!
The family would like to thank the staff at Sullivan Park Care Center, who gave you excellent and loving care.
A celebration of Vern’s life will be held April 6th, at 1:00 pm at First Assembly of God, 828 W. Indiana, Spokane.
Remembrances can be made to Spokane Oldtimers in care of Youth Hockey, P.O.
Box 48742, Spokane, WA 99228.
Community Cremation Service
4407 N. Division #103
Spokane, WA 99207
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