Saturday, February 20, 2010

Remembering Grandpa Kanalley

Posted by Craig Kanalley on 2/20/2010

I never met him, but I've heard so many stories.

My grandfather Kenneth Wallace Kanalley died of a massive heartattack 30 years ago to the day on Feb. 20, 1980. He was 47 years old.

He lived his whole life in Buffalo, New York, besides being stationed overseas with the Marines during the Korean War. He loved the outdoors - fishing, hunting, scuba diving. He loved ice hockey, not a surprise considering his Canadian roots (both of his parents grew up in Ontario and all four of his grandparents were born in Canada).

Back in the day, he played hockey with Pierre Pilote before Pilote went on to an outstanding NHL career and was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame.

He was a "jokester" and a "prankster," He was a very hardworker, spending time as a maintenance man and steeple jack. He loved his family, three kids, and he loved my grandmother Rita, pictured above on their wedding day.

Today, 30 years after his death, our family remembers him, and I wanted to pay tribute to his life.

Today was a special day for my family for another reason. My sister, Melissa Kanalley, scored a career-high 34 points in Pittsburgh today to eclipse 1,000 points for her college basketball career at D'Youville College. It was her second-to-last ever game and she needed 30 points to hit the mark. What a way to do it. We know Grandpa K. was watching.

And it's a special time for my family for yet one more reason: the Winter Olympics.

Thirty years ago, my Grandpa Kanalley predicted the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team would pull off a monumental feat - a gold medal. Two days after his death, on Feb. 22, 1980, they upset the HEAVILY-favored Soviet Union in Lake Placid, New York, in one of the most memorable sporting events in American history. Grandpa was buried a day later on Feb. 23, and Team USA went on to win the gold, defeating Finland.

Well, Grandpa, I'm hoping we can do it again. We got USA-Canada tomorrow, Feb. 21, 2010. A prelim game, but a special one nonetheless. With the Sabres' own Ryan Miller in nets for the U.S., here's hoping for a gold in 2010 in Canada. Either way, it's Olympic hockey. I know you're watching.

6 comments on "Remembering Grandpa Kanalley"

colleen k on February 28, 2010 at 7:54 PM said...

Thanks for remembering grampa/dad Kanalley in such a wonderful way.
Colleen

Anonymous said...

Ken and Rita were godparents to my oldest son Gordon Jr. We would exchange Christmas gifts with Patrick and Gordon. Ken and Gordon would try to buy a gift with parts to put together. Gordon gave up when Ken bought a garage with many pieces.

Barbara and Gordon Miller

Aunt Mar said...

I, too, never met but have heard so many great stories about your grampa my brother-in-law, Ken Kanalley. I so wish I could have met this person that is always spoken about with love and humor. I know he'd be proud of all of his kids and grandkids and all you have accomplished! Love, Aunt Mar

Nancy Westbury said...

Hi, my name is Nancy Westbury, I am Rita's cousin. Alothough I only met Ken a couple of times, Rita and I exchanged Christmas cards, and she always spoke higly of him. We always kept in touch, I just wish I would have gotten to know Ken a little better, he seemed like a great man. Craig, thank you so much for writting this post, its a great way to remember him.
Nancy Westbury

blithe on May 20, 2010 at 1:23 AM said...

These stories are so endearing and familiar to me! I remember stories from my great Aunt Marlene and Great Grandmother Mary Margaret and Great Aunt Catherine.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story! For years I never knew who my grandfather was. My grandmother refused to tell me. Finally, after twenty years of not knowing, my grandmother decided to tell me, believing she had only hours to live. She told me, with tears in her eyes, "Your grandfather is... Elvis Presley". That was a surprise that was long overdue! Thank you, Craig!

 

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