Bob Gage had one last “scoop” for his friends at The University of Western Ontario.
Former Western athlete and W Club member Ted Hessel, a long-time friend Bob “Scoop” Gage, delivered a series of emotion-filled remarks honouring his friend during the announcement of Gage’s major gift to the university.
On Monday, the university announced a major bequest of $1 million from Gage bringing his total giving to the university to almost $1.2 million. The bequest from the long-time London Free Press sports reporter will support current Mustangs and future generations of Western student-athletes.
Known as the “dean of amateur sports reporters in Canada,” Gage covered the Western Mustangs during his 33-year career with the London Free Press. He died July 12, 2009 at the age of 89.
Western President Amit Chakma, speaking at Alumni Hall, a place Gage frequented both as a fan and a journalist, praised Gage for his commitment to the City of London, the university, and the Western Mustangs.
“Bob’s deep love of sport and Mustang athletics is legendary here on campus and in the broader community,” says Chakma. “Through his prolific storytelling, through his passionate advocacy of amateur sport, and through his generous philanthropy, I am certain Bob would be very pleased to know that his legacy will continue to touch the lives of student-athletes for generations to come.”
The bequest announced Monday, valued at $1 million, will be endowed at Foundation Western to generate annual support for the J.P. Metras Sports Museum, and the Bob Gage Athletic Leadership Awards. Valued from $1,000 to $3,500, these awards will be available annually to first-year students participating in basketball, track and field, men’s squash and football.
A member of Western football’s Wall of Champions, men’s basketball’s Hall of Honour, the Track and Field Hall of Fame and the ‘W’ Club Hall of Fame, Gage previously donated $57,000 to Western to support the construction of the Michael Kirkley Training Centre at the J.W. Little Building at TD Waterhouse Stadium. The Bob Gage Weight Room in the centre was named in his honour. Gage also established several endowed funds during his lifetime in support of athletic awards and contributed regularly to the Adopt-A-Mustang program.
Legend has it Gage never missed a Mustangs men’s home basketball game. He also authored Mustang Tales, a 157-page chronicle of the history of Mustangs men’s athletics at Western in 2001.
“Few people can equal the great professional and personal contributions to athletics and to student-athletes made by Bob Gage,” says Thérèse Quigley, Director of Sports and Recreation Services at Western and a former volleyball standout, who was interviewed by Gage during her playing days. “His work as a journalist serves as an historical archive in Canadian sport, with volumes of stories about Western athletics and student-athletes. And now the Bob Gage Athletic Leadership Awards will build on Bob’s legacy and help us attract and support top student-athletes, foster their leadership abilities, and build strong, competitive teams.”
Internationally recognized for his body of work, Gage championed amateur sport in the region as a reporter and advocate of student-athletes and their accomplishments. It became a lifelong mission to act in their interest, he said in 2008, and he continued to give back in his retired life.
“I feel very honoured,” Gage said in an interview in 2008. “I can sit back and see other people being honoured and recognized. It’s very rewarding for me to be able to give back. Western, that’s where my heart is.”