Smokey's gone
Long-time Yellowknifer was deeply involved in community

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 02/97) - Smokey Heal, a long-time Yellowknifer, will be remembered most for his generosity and commitment to the community.

Heal passed away quietly at the Avens Centre on Sunday. He was 77.

Heal was deeply involved in hockey and the Canadian Legion and was a founding member of the Yellowknife Elk's Club. "He was a very community-minded person," said Mayor Dave Lovell.

"He always came up with the money for kids who needed skates. If that happened he would get the skates without the fanfare."

As a coach, a sponsor, a husband and father of two sons, he had a passion for hockey -- he even had a team, Smokey's Minors, named after him.

Coming to Yellowknife from Delburne, Alta., in 1940 to work as a prospector for Con Mine, Smokey went on to run several businesses, including RM Williams trucking and the General Motors car dealership, in the 1950s.

He was also a pilot in the Canadian Air Force during the Second World War.

Smokey's son remembers his dad as a hard worker who made the time to spend with his family.

"We went as a family to the Calgary Stampede," said Jim Heal. "His growing up in a rural, farm setting made him fond of horses. So we went to the Stampede and he rode the horses in the parade."

Jean Heal remembers playing at community dances with her husband. "He played the drum and I played the piano," she said. "We had a good life."