Rick Schuchard, an influential member of the St. Albert sports community, passed away May 21 at the age of 88.
“He really was a special guy,” said daughter Carol Schuchard.
Schuchard, grandfather to Jarome Iginla, was involved with the St. Albert Minor Hockey Association and St. Albert Minor Baseball Association while Iginla was playing in St. Albert. But more than that, he drove Iginla to all of his games and was described by one friend as being a father figure to the NHL star.
“I think Rick probably had some knowledge that he may go someplace someday,” said Larry Mitchell, who said he had been a friend of Schuchard’s for about 40 years. “Rick would take him wherever the hockey game was, whether it was in Edmonton or Westlock or Jasper or Lloydminster or wherever, he would go. Rick actually was just like a dad to him.”
Mitchell, 75, first met Schuchard back when Mitchell was a sports reporter for the St. Albert Gazette and Schuchard was around Legion Memorial Ball Park watching Iginla. Shortly afterwards, Schuchard began writing a weekly column for the Gazette on the St. Albert Cardinals’ rep and house league teams.
Another of Schuchard’s friends, Graham Tanner, credits Iginla’s grandfather for propelling him to where he is today.
“He basically ended up travelling all over Canada to get Jarome everywhere he needed to be for his tournaments and try-outs and stuff like that,” Tanner said. “Rick, and this is just my opinion, but I would say he was an instrumental part in getting Jarome to the places that he needs to be to be seen that made him as successful as he is today.”
Tanner used to often talk to Schuchard when he brought in his motorhome to the Firestone in Grandin Park Plaza for repairs. Later, the two families regularly bowled together in a league.
“He was a very giving fellow,” Tanner said. “He was one of the nicest guys I ever met.”
When Servus Credit Union Place was being built a few years ago, Mitchell recalled how he was looking for items to raffle off for a fundraiser.
“I got a-hold of Rick to see if he could get a Jarome Iginla jersey that we would raffle off,” he said. “He did that, but instead of getting one directly from Jarome, he gave me one that Jarome had given to him.”
Schuchard came to St. Albert from Oregon in the 1960s. He, along with his wife Frances, was a teacher.
Schuchard’s funeral service was held at the St. Albert United Church on Friday afternoon. Iginla gave the eulogy.