By Sam Laskaris

The Brooklin Lacrosse Club (BLC) is mourning the loss of one of, if not its greatest ambassador. Robert (Bob) Vesey, a former president, general manager, executive member and one of the organization’s biggest supporters, died on Feb. 25. He was 87.

Tributes from current and former members of the Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) franchise, previously known as the Brooklin Redmen, came pouring in following the news of Vesey’s death.

“I remember watching games as a young guy at Luther Vipond (Arena in Brooklin) seeing Ves doing his thing and not really knowing how much or what he did,” Brad MacArthur, BLC’s current head coach and general manager, said of Vesey. “When I had the opportunity to play for Brooklin, it was a real eyeopener as to how much he did for our club. He was a fierce competitor and hated losing with an intense stare and look you just can't emulate. Bob will certainly be remembered and missed by everyone in our organization.”

BLC’s current president Dean Link said Vesey was not only a legend in lacrosse circles but also with his chosen profession. “He also served his community by being a firefighter,” Link said. “And when he retired he was a fire captain.”

MSL commissioner Doug Luey said league officials were saddened to hear about Vesey’s death. “Mr. Vesey was the poster boy for our sport in the Durham Region for many, many years and in particular his time with the Brooklin Lacrosse Club with over 60 years of service to the club,” Luey said.

Vesey’s numerous contributions were recognized as he was inducted not only into the Whitby Sports Hall of Fame but both the Ontario and Canadian lacrosse halls of fame as well. “Always a gentleman but was never shy to share his vision of where the sport should be headed,” Luey added. “I always enjoyed our chats and his insights into Major Series Lacrosse.”

Vesey was part of the Brooklin organization for all seven of its Mann Cup championships. “Ves bled Brooklin Lacrosse,” said Derek Keenan, a former team player and coach. “He did pretty much every job within the organization and was a major fundraiser for many years. He cared deeply about the team, the legacy of the team and most importantly he cared about the players and staff.”

Behind the scenes Vesey was an instrumental figure as he sought out business opportunities as well as advertising and sponsorships for the franchise. “He was always the first guy to put his hand up to help, no matter what the task was,” said Keenan, who is the current GM of the National Lacrosse League’s Saskatchewan Rush. “He offered up his house for many team-building activities over the years. I’ve got nothing but great memories of Ves, especially of winning Mann Cups with him.”

Former Brooklin captain John Fusco, a playing legend himself with the franchise, also had plenty of positives to share about Vesey. “As a kid growing up watching the Redmen and then a player for many years the name that is synonymous with the Redmen is Bob Vesey,” Fusco said. “Whether you are a local fan or player and had the privilege of getting to know and see the tremendous influence Bob has had on the Redmen, or an opposing team feeling his wrath, you knew and saw the passion he had for this team. I know every player that was a part of the team has a heavy heart now and has many great memories that will last a lifetime thanks to Bob.”

Eric Perroni, a former star player with the Brooklin squad, said Vesey often went the extra mile to assist the club.

“After many years of playing lacrosse for the Brooklin Redmen, there was one constant, a gentleman who epitomized everything great about the organization, and someone who was always there when something needed to be done for the team,” Perroni said. “In my 15 plus years involved with the team this man was the heart and soul of the Brooklin Redmen.”

Peter Vipond, who coached Brooklin to five Mann Cup titles, echoed the sentiment of many about just how instrumental Vesey was to the franchise. “Ves was the main man from the very beginning of the Brooklin Redmen,” Vipond said. “If you needed something done, Bob was your man. He loved the Brooklin Redmen, and he bled red his whole life.”

Vipond added Vesey was not only keen to assist the team when it was winning but also when it encountered some lean seasons. “He was always there leading and pushing to get better,” Vipond said. “There’s no shortage of people who want to be around when the team is doing well. But the real test of character is sticking it out in the tough times. And Ves was always there.”

Vipond added many, including himself, have lost a lifelong friend. “I’ve been talking to some of the old guys, from the ‘60s, and they’re all saying the same thing - what a great guy Bob was, how much he did for the Redmen and how good he was for lacrosse in general,” Vipond said. “Bob was a really good friend to me and I’m going to miss him.”

Memorial details will be updated here:

Barnes Memorial Funeral Home

Additional Links:

Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame bio

Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame bio