He was a fixture at the Winfield Arena for many, many years.
On Saturday, the late Bob “Bongo” Leblanc was remembered at a funeral service in Lake Country as the 81-year-old long-time resident was laid to rest after succumbing in his battle with cancer.
Known as Bongo around the rink, Leblanc’s legacy is in the hours, the care and the commitment at the Winfield Arena, where he worked for years as the unofficial scorekeeper for hockey games that took place in the rink.
“When there was a tournament, Bongo would run the clock from 8 a.m. Saturday morning to 6 p.m. Sunday night, running the clock all by himself,” said Rod McDonald. the chief engineer of the Winfield Arena. “And to top it off he would sing the national anthem before the final game. The guy had an incredible voice. People from out of town would come and they would be in awe to have someone sing the anthem.”
McDonald moved to Lake Country in 1989 and Bongo was already a fixture at the rink. And it wasn’t just minor hockey. Leblanc was a regular in the time-keepers booth for the Winfield men’s recreational league, which is still going today and used to have popular Easter tournaments that Bongo would work.
“He was unsung hero,” said Winfield league president Trent Green. “He was the guy that showed up at the 11:15 p.m. game to make less than minimum wage. He came into the hallway before the games and would laugh with the guys and be interactive. He was a great guy to have around the rink and we miss him.”
Bongo also kept stats for the league and even once made up an original song called the Laker Girls, singing it for the Winfield Lakers, the local team in the league. He had a key to the dressing rooms and in the early days would hang jerseys for the teams and fill water bottles.
Bongo was remembered at a funeral on Saturday with, among others, his son Richard in attendance.