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October 29/06 10:07 am - Joe DeMaeyer Tribute


Posted by Editoress on 10/29/06
 

Joe DeMaeyer Tribute

Last weekend, before the start of racing on Day 3 of the Forest City Velodrome Six Day race, a tribute was held for Joe DeMaeyer, who passed away October 8th (see Daily News: October 9/06 8:30 pm EDT - Joe DeMaeyer Passes Away).

The tribute brought out numerous riders and ex-riders, with Joe's son Leon taking Joe's track bike for a lap around the track during a moment of silence. Leon revealed that Joe's bike will stay at the track as a loaner for newcomers to the sport. "It's what my Dad would have wanted, to see the bike being used." (The bike dates to 1950, when it was one of six brought back from Holland by Albert Coulier, one of the London velodrome partners).

Here are some Photos from the tribute and the racing that followed. Also, we would like to thank Bob Schelstraete for the selection of Images he has provided of Joe during his career as a racer and commissaire.

Before Leon's ride Bob Schelstraete read the following Tribute to Joe:

Before starting today's race - day 3 of our six-day - we would like to take a few moments to pay tribute to a truly big man of cycling, a legend to cycling enthusiasts across the country, Joe DeMaeyer, who passed away recently.

Throughout his lifetime Joe became friends to hundreds and hundreds of cyclists and cycling enthusiasts across the entire country.

Many of you who knew Joe probably didn't recognize the slim powerful track rider in the pictures at the entrance.

Joe was born at Chatham, Ontario on March 2, 1923 - 83 years ago. Joe was raised on the tobacco farm, hence his nickname 'Smokey'. Joe said he never actually smoked a day in his life.

Joe had many successful races during his career and particularly on the track. Joe's trademark, or chick magnet, as he would describe it, was his silk bandana he wore around his neck when racing. It worked, he attracted the attention of a local beauty named Edna and ended up marrying her and having 2 great sons: Leon, and Rick, who sadly predeceased him.

We appreciate having Joe's family with us here and I would ask that they stand or wave for a second so we can acknowledge them. We have Joe's wife of 54 years Edna, son Leon, Granddaughter Tish and Great-granddaughter Ella with us here today.

Joe had been in failing health for some time and mentioned on numerous occasions that he dearly wanted to get to the new velodrome in London and see one more race. Unfortunately it was not to be.

Well, Joe is here now looking down on us and smiling

Joe's last track race was in 1953 in Chicago, Illinois. After his racing career ended Joe kept deeply involved in cycling by being part of, and helping to organize events as part of The Delhi Cycling Club.

He was president of the club and instrumental to bringing the velodrome back to Delhi in the early 70's.

Joe also won many, many trophies in his other sports passion, archery.

From there Joe went into coaching and worked with some of Canada's best athletes.

The next major step in Joe's cycling life was becoming a race commissaire. He had a lot of new youngsters shaking in their pedals as they saw the big man in the black and white striped shirt bellow out instructions at the start line or warn of infractions during the race.

Joe never used a microphone - he never needed one. Shaking in the pedals would turn to smiles as he would make some comical comment or give words of encouragement. He was a great commissaire, but most importantly a fair commissaire with a big heart.

At the end of the race competitors who even finished last but really tried and rode a hard race would get as much credit as the winner. He was a true sportsman.

Another thing Joe will always be remembered for was his jokes. Before we go to the final part of the tribute I'll tell a little story that I know he would have liked.

When Joe got up to the pearly gates St Peter met him and said, Joe it's so great to have you here. You're going to love it. We've got a bike for you with top equipment like you've never seen on earth. We've got some beautiful silk bandanas and most of all look over there - that's the best, most beautiful velodrome ever - there is nothing like it on earth. Just then Joe noticed a blurr of speed flying around the track. Joe said WOW that must be Eddy Merckx. St Peter said, no Joe, Eddy's not here yet.

That's the Lord, every once in a while he gets on the track to see if he's as fast as Eddy.

To conclude the tribute I would now like to invite Joe's son Leon to take Joe's chrome track bike around the track for 'his final lap'. As this is done I would ask for a moments silence.

Thank you Leon

Now if Joe could speak to us he'd probably say- Thanks folks - now let me see some racing!!

 


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