The London sports community has lost a great friend with the death of journalist Bob Gage, who covered the Western Mustangs teams throughout his 33-year career with The London Free Press.
A member of Western’s football Wall of Champions, men’s basketball’s Hall of Honour, track and field and W Club hall of fames, Gage was taken to University Hospital in London July 7 with a broken hip and there developed pneumonia. He died Sunday morning at the age of 89.
Bob Gage enjoys the Mustangs Homecoming game from the sidelines in 2008.
“There are but a handful of people, historically, who have made significant, lasting professional and personal contributions to athletics,” says Acting Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Kevin Wamsley. “Bob Gage is one of them.
“Through his work as a journalist, Bob became a walking history of Canadian sport and, more particularly, of Western athletics. He knew everyone and their accomplishments and, even in his retirement, Bob was a permanent fixture at Western events. His personal contributions will enable future generations of Western athletes to achieve their goals. Our community at Western will miss him.”
Gage recently donated $57,000 to The University of Western Ontario 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 met thousands of student-athletes and coaches from Western in his career, and touched as many lives through his stories. Perhaps more importantly, the friendships he developed throughout his career were countless.
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,” said Gage. “I can sit back and see other people being honoured and recognized. It’s very rewarding for me to be able to give back.”
Gage, who also has several awards for athletes at Western named in his honour, would have it no other way.
“Western, that’s where my heart is,” said Gage.
It’s said Gage never missed a Mustangs men’s home basketball game. Fittingly, he was honoured as an inaugural member of the Mustangs Backcourt Club men’s basketball Hall of Fame to compliment his entry to other societies and halls of fame in the community.
Gage often wrote about the gradual changes of the student-athlete demographic at Western. He authored Mustang Tales, a 157-page chronicle of the history of Mustangs men’s athletics at Western.
“I felt an impetus to record the history of Western and share my knowledge of the Mustangs,” said Gage. “I’m so pleased I did it.”
Gage said in 2008 he would love to be able to continue to help university athletics for the rest of his life.
“I owe a lot to Western,” said Gage. “I owe a lot to every athlete, every coach, for all they did for me. I made so many friends through my career.”
“I guess I always felt home at Western,” added Gage. “Sports have never dwindled here. Western sport is always at the top. I’m just glad I’ve been able to be such a big part of it.”
Gage said he believes sport makes people more complete and more likely to succeed in life.
“I believe in athletics and what it can do for people,” said Gage. “I suppose sports are always different, always new. That’s why it was always such a joy for me to cover athletes through their careers.”
A funeral will be held on Wednesday July 15 at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church (Lyle and York streets) in London. A tribute will follow in the church hall at 11 a.m.