The Gift of Time

By Dennis Hinschberger


. . . an ode to “volunteerism”. . .

Most of you Western athletic alumni out there have never heard the name Ted Hessel, BA'58, BA'67 (Hons) Phys. Ed, but I hope you feel no shame in it – he prefers it that way. Ted came from a time when you didn’t virtue seek (deeds not words) and you didn’t ask permission, rather you took personal responsibility and forged ahead until the job was done - and done right. Thankfully, we – Western and the WMAA - had just the right man, at just the right time.

Any alum who has ever been immortalized on the walls of Alumni Hall or memorialized in the JP Metras Museum website, and all of their family and friends who have enjoyed remembering or acknowledging the athletic successes of these individuals over the past century or more, owes some debt of gratitude to Ted. He might as well be the patron saint of the Western Mustangs Athletic Alumni Association!

Ted (and his wife Libby) grew up in Old South, a nostalgic picturesque hub in the heart of London – they were high school sweethearts at South Secondary! Few knew of his early service to his country, after graduating Western, with the Canadian air force in Germany in the early 60’s, but when he returned to London to attend teachers college, with his wife and two kids, to become a high school educator (physical education) and administrator in the late 1960’s . . . Western athletes became the unconscious benefactors.

His pride in Western, and of his time here (he played football for the Jr Varsity Colts in the mid 1950’s), led to his long involvement with the “W” Club and subsequently, the WMAA, which he helped reform/evolve through the merger of the separate men’s and women’s volunteer organizations. He spent countless hours, over almost three decades, organizing fundraising events for the benefit of various sports teams through golf tournaments and Homecoming events, but also began the interaction of this volunteer group with Western’s sports administration and its gifting subsidiaries. In my recent conversation with him, he spoke fondly of the people he worked with on these initiatives – Western “builders” who inspired him such as Mike Yuhasz, Bill L’Heureux, George Wearring, Glynn Leyshon, and Helen Luckman, but he never spoke about his own efforts. He sincerely wanted to know how business was going at the WMAA – “were we sound?”, “were we healthy?”  Happily, I was able to report “never better, – because of YOU!”

Most importantly for the WMAA and for Western, it was Ted’s close association with Bob Gage, a local sports reporter for the London Free Press who devoted almost his entire life to sport and to Western, which had the most dramatic impact. Bob was from Windsor originally and had no family, just great local friendships. His friendship with Ted, and Bob’s devotion to Western led to a significant donation to the JP Metras Museum, that was established in 1984, through which all WMAA communications are now elevated. Ted singlehandedly curated most of the early archives for the Metras Museum and led the construction of the trophy cases and their displays with zero direction, and permission, from the administrators at the time. He “just did it”! He told me he enjoyed doing it, that it was a worthy cause supporting these young athletes . . . I could not have agreed with him more.

The only way we can repay Ted for his own lifelong devotion to Western, the WMAA, and to athletics, is to acknowledge his time and effort, his gracious and passionate leadership, his quiet and humble demeanor, in these paragraphs. It just doesn’t seem enough.

For volunteerism in its greatest form – thank you Ted Hessel – and to the Hessel family for loaning him to us! Stay strong my friend.  

Consider volunteering your time. The WMAA is always looking for candidates for our committees and our board, so if you have the time and the passion for all things purple, you can find us @ the WMAA through the JP Metras Museum. Thanks!