Two smiling faces recently departed their loved ones as friendly, affable folks who were simply known as good people.
Marilyn Jones (nee McCauley) and Richard Nystedt were both known for their infectious smiles and kind words.
They came from different walks of life and made their own separate ways that included links to the community and to local sports.
For many, many, many years, Marilyn, who passed away on July 31 at the age of 87, was part of the family owned and operated — and iconic — McCauley’s Haviland Bay Hotel.
Located just outside the Sault, McCauley’s became a family haven over decades as area residents flocked to the Haviland Bay restaurant for — among other home made menu items — to take in their famous fish dinners.
A proud, elegant lady with a work ethic that those close to her say was second to none, Marilyn never forgot her Haviland Bay roots.
On the sporting side, she watched as one of her son’s, Jerry Reid, became an exceptional fastball player.
Another son, Bobby Jones, not only grew to become an Ontario Hockey League defenseman over five seasons with the Soo Greyhounds, but an accomplished coach.
Now 50 years old and having just finished his first season as an assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators, Bobby more than paid his dues before getting behind a National Hockey League bench last fall.
That is, Bobby was an assistant coach, associate coach and head coach for more than 20 years with six different OHL teams — twice winning the Memorial Cup championship with the Windsor Spitfires — before finally pursuing a pro opportunity and making it to the NHL with Ottawa.
Marilyn, who always had a smile on her face and a nice word whenever our paths crossed, was also a grandmother to a pair of junior hockey standouts in brothers Jarret Reid and Jake Reid.
Jarret was part of the Soo Greyhounds 1993 Memorial Cup championship team as a 50-goal scorer while younger brother Jake played with distinction for both the Blind River Beavers and Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
Meanwhile, a granddaughter, Rebecca (Reid) Anderson, was a multi-sport high school achiever with the St. Mary’s Knights.
And another of Marilyn’s granddaughters, Roberta Reid, was an accomplished basketball player locally at the high school and college levels, with the St. Mary’s Knights and the Algoma University Thunderbirds.
While, as mentioned, Marilyn always wore a trademark smile, there was one time in particular when I ran afoul of her.
That was during the 1998-1999 season when her son Bobby was an assistant with the Greyhounds under head coach Dave Cameron.
At any rate, I penned a column for the Sault This Week in which I wasn’t very flattering towards Coach Cameron. (who I actually liked.)
Anyway, I happened to run into Marilyn in a grocery store and after we exchanged hellos, she came right to the point, saying: “You know Randy, I read all of your articles and I like most of them. But the one that you just wrote about Dave Cameron was not very nice at all. You be nice now, young man!”
And with that, she shook her head at me and walked away.
The next time I saw her, though, all was forgotten. Sort of.
“Keep up the good work writing about hockey,” she smiled. “And behave yourself.”
Rest in peace, Mrs. Jones.
Over to Richard Nystedt, the kind gentleman passed away on August 6 at the age of 78.
I first got to know Richard when he was coaching boys high school basketball for the Bawating Braves. He also coached and refereed basketball at the YMCA as a true community volunteer.
And I saw him often over the years, always accompanied by his wife, Deborah.
A mechanical technician by trade, Richard was a big sports fan who often talked college basketball, the National Football League (as in the Green Bay Packers) and Major League Baseball (as in the Toronto Blue Jays.)
As friendly and outgoing as he was, Richard never got over the heart ache of losing one of his sons, Eric Nystedt, at a young age. Eric, a former high school basketball star at Bawating, was killed in the line of duty as an Ontario Provincial Police officer.
Richard, though, was able to take some solace from Eric’s passing by being named an honourary member of the OPP. Richard was also involved with the Eric Nystedt Memorial Basketball Tournament as well as a sanctioned run in honour of his son.
He always became a self taught wood carver and would show off his walking stick to me on the occasions when my wife, Mary, and I happened to run into Richard and his wife.
In caring fashion, Richard always made a point of telling me to say hi to my daughter, Cara. Richard and Deborah knew Cara from her work as a restaurant server and a nurse.
A good, man, Richard, who I have good thoughts of.
Rest in peace, Mr. Nystedt.