He defined kindness and generosity with a trademark, friendly smile and the warmest of hearts.
A much respected, benevolent gentleman who was well known and well liked, he shunned the limelight even though he was so active in the community as a businessman, volunteer and philanthropist.
He had a love for dogs and a soft heart for the less fortunate and he gave so much in so many ways and asked for nothing in return.
Just a few days after celebrating his 84th birthday, Jim McAuley passed away on Saturday (November 21) in Sault Ste. Marie, the home town that he loved and was such a laid back, yet prominent, fixture in.
The owner of the iconic McAuley Fuels for many years, Jim remained active and a valued presence in behind the scene roles of his many local business interests.
He loved to talk hockey, especially the Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League, for whom he was an original investor back in 1972. Jim retained a keen and financial interest in the Greyhounds and rarely missed a home game.
An “aw shucks” kind of a man, his love for animals, in particular dogs, was well known. Jim could often be seen driving around the streets of the Sault with a dog in his car.
In fact, I can attest to the fact that Jim always carried dog treats in his pocket and when he would spot me walking with my pet, he would pull over his car, give me a friendly hello, and then give my dog a pat on the head and a treat.
His face would absolutely light up when he saw someone he knew and liked and cared about. Many times, while out walking, or in one of his favourite restaurants, he would see my wife and I and give Mary a warm hug, then turn to me and say, with that ever-present smile: “You are a lucky man, Randy.”
What stood Jim apart from so many others — especially those in the hockey and business worlds — was that he never talked about himself. He could talk family, he could talk hockey, he could talk business — but he would never, ever talk about himself and he was always shy to accept a compliment.
When I think of Jim, I think of his involvement in the Greyhounds and the OHL — because it was as president of the team that I first got to know him when I started in the local media at radio station CKCY back in 1975.
And over the years and away from hockey, I got to know him even better as a sensitive dog lover and someone who would give money to those in need and only ask that they did not make his generosity public.
The above are just a few examples of his kind, genuine ways.
To be sure, aside from a few family members, I don’t think I have ever met anyone who made me feel as good about myself as Jim did. And not just about something that I had written or a young athlete that I had helped promote.
Specifically, Jim was fond of saying to me, especially when he would see me out walking my pet, that “I always judge a person by the way he treats his dog.”
I do believe that they don’t make too many men like Jim. That is because to me, and to so many others, men like Jim only come around once in a lifetime.
Bless you, kind sir.
Your memory and your spotless legacy will live on.