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Bench Talk / Off The Wire

The Earl


By Fred Wallace

 Hi, this is Fred Wallace with " Off the Wire ".


The last time I saw Earl Farrell, not surprisingly, was at an athletic event, the 2018 Bob Atkinson Memorial Cross Country meet near Paisley.

Quietly, amid the perpetual swirl of 500 youngsters ripping around Saugeen Bluffs that day, Earl approached the PA Picnic Table and we had a very nice chat on a nice Fall afternoon; the same kind of chat we always had, on a day like many others, when our conversation was sandwiched between the flurry of activities for youngsters.

I met Earl almost 30 years ago at the old Civic Awards in Owen Sound where his most prominent track athlete, hurdler Donalda Duprey, was the guest speaker.

After the event, Earl & his wife Geordie approached and wondered if I would be the announcer for what was then the Grey Bruce Track & Field Championships in Kincardine.

For the following 3 decades I encountered Earl at Track & Field meets or cross country events around the region.

He was always there, always quietly moving around the perimeter, intently watching the proceedings, always keeping mental notes on how his athletes were performing that day.

I can't begin to estimate how many runners, jumpers, throwers, athletes & people in general benefited from the Farrell's small, but powerful, Saugeen Track & Field Club operation.


......I knew Earl had been sick. 

Unlike a track that's generally straight ahead, his health had significant swings and swerves, upgrades & then setbacks. Progress, then delays.

But that afternoon, October 10th, in the cozy Pavilion at Saugeen Bluffs, Earl looked good, maybe a little older, but he still had the vibrant color in his face, a weathered look that came from standing outside, trackside, for decades, his grey hair was the way I always remembered it, and that soft, gentle, knowing smile, the one that greeted you before the conversation got rolling, was as warm as ever.

Earl Farrell's Celebration of Life will be at the Lakeshore Recreation Centre in Port Elgin on Saturday with " Come and Go " starting at 2pm and tributes commencing mid-afternoon.

Those attending are invited to dress in the attire that connects with your memories of Earl.

Factoring the number of athletes and the number of years, the variety of fashion for Earl Farrell's Celebration on Saturday should be pretty wide.


I'm Fred Wallace

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