CORNER BROOK — Always modest about the impact he was having, J. Wayne Trask insisted on sharing any accolades directed his way.
The positive light in which Mr. Trask was esteemed by those he was involved with, was shining brightly again Tuesday as news broke that the man credited with delivering the 1999 Canada Winter Games to western Newfoundland had died.
Mr. Trask died in his native hometown of St. John’s early Tuesday morning after a short illness.
He was 65.
After moving to Corner Brook in 1971, Mr. Trask became a successful businessman, entrepreneur and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. He also became quite well known for being community-minded. He was involved in the Knights of Columbus and Junior Achievement, but it was as president of the 1999 Canada Winter Games Host Society where he made his biggest impression.
Jamie Schwartz, who was the host society’s general manager, worked alongside Mr. Trask for five years and remained good friends with him in the 14 years since the event.
“He was a tremendous individual with such a positive disposition,” Schwartz said Tuesday afternoon. “It was a real pleasure and an honour to work with him. He had some amazing qualities.”
One of those renowned abilities, said Schwartz, was Mr. Trask’s skill at getting the thousands of people needed to pull off the ‘99 Games without a hitch.
“He was one of the truest leaders I have ever met,” said Schwartz. “He was able to manage a diverse group of people from all walks of life and had that special ability to motivate everybody. It was a special talent that everybody could recognize after just knowing Wayne for a short time.”
Part of the plan to lure the national sporting event based in Corner Brook involved the construction of a regional civic centre, which was originally called the Canada Games Centre. He would play an integral role in the formation of the Civic Centre Association that raised the City of Corner Brook’s share of paying for the multi-million dollar stadium.
Now called the Pepsi Centre, the facility’s concourse was unveiled as the J. Wayne Trask Walking Track in Mr. Trask’s honour in 2007.
John Brothers was one of the men who, with Mr. Trask, came up with the idea of building the civic centre and the plan to bid for the Canada Games to help make it happen. Brothers said Mr. Trask had a knack for making everything he touched turn out well.
“He always said he just had good people around him, but he had a way of getting the best out of everybody,” said Brothers, who was also a founding member of the Civic Centre Association and a volunteer with the Canada Games host management committee.
Canada Games Council
Mr. Trask’s involvement with the Canada Games did not end when the event in Corner Brook was over. The resounding success of those particular Games continues to resonate today and, shortly after the 2005 Summer Canada Games in Regina, Mr. Trask joined the Canada Games Council.
He was a member of the council until his death, at which time he was a member-at-large of the council’s board of directors. He chaired the steering committee for the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Canada Games in 2007 and was also chair of the selection committee for the Canada Games Hall of Honour established in 2007. He was also a member of the council’s marketing and communications committee.
Patrick Kenny, director of marketing and communications for the Canada Games Council, said the entire organization is in shock about Mr. Trask’s death.
“I don’t think his loss has truly been understood at this point and, very shortly, the entire Canada Games family will feel the brunt of this,” Kenny said in a phone interview from Ottawa Tuesday evening.
Since learning of Mr. Trask’s illness a short time ago, Kenny said the council has heard from numerous people who have been, or still are, involved in the Canada Games movement and sent their best wishes to him and his family.
“Wayne absolutely left a mark, from a Canada Games perspective, in terms of individuals coming forward and mentioning the impact Wayne had on them and their involvement in Canada Games,” said Kenny.
Ones to remember
Canada Games alumni, added Kenny, still say the Games in Corner Brook are the ones they remember the most and realize the strong role Mr. Trask played in its success. That positive influence continued in his work with the Canada Games Council, said Kenny, as Trask enthusiastically transferred his knowledge, experience and insight on to future Games organizers.
“He was extremely supportive of the staff, always checking to make sure we knew the evolution of where the Games had come from and understood how it is we were making an impact,” said Kenny.
In 2013, Mr. Trask was named a recipient of a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for contributions he made during his lifetime.
The City of Corner Brook issued a press release Tuesday to offer its condolences to Mr. Trask’s family and friends. Mayor Neville Greeley said Mr. Trask helped blaze a trail for a period of volunteerism in Corner Brook that saw numerous others find the confidence to pursue other major events for the Corner Brook and surrounding area in the years that followed.
“His ability to lead, inspire and empower the volunteers who worked with him was legendary ... It is certainly sad to hear of the passing of someone who had such an impact on our community,” said Greeley.
A funeral mass for Mr. Trask will be held at the Basilica in St. John’s Saturday morning.