PASADENA Dermot (Joe) Gulliver had an indelible impact on everyone around him.
Whether it was as a star on the soccer pitch, in one of his many roles as a volunteer or simply when he would share a joke among friends, Mr. Gulliver was the kind of man that could make anything better with his very presence.
A Hall of Famer in both the Sport Newfoundland and Labrador and Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association, the St. John’s native, who resided in Pasadena for over 50 years, was truly one of the greatest athletes on the island, even being voted the province’s best soccer player of the 1950s. A feared striker, he played on a number of successful clubs throughout the years, scoring habitually and always demonstrating sportsmanship and class. He began coaching after his playing days were over, passing on the skills he had accumulated to a new generation as best he could.
Mr. Gulliver died on Monday morning at the age of 77. He leaves behind his wife of 52 years, Ida, and five children — his son Derm and four daughters, Jacquie Doody, JoAnne Ryan, Deanna Kilfoil and Jennifer Verbiski.
His talent was larger than life, a man who could literally change the course of a soccer match just by stepping onto the pitch.
One of Mr. Gulliver’s best friends and former teammates, Ray Baird, recalls a time back in the ’60s, just as they were opening the new soccer pitch in St. Lawrence. The Corner Brook team, featuring Mr. Gulliver and Baird, was invited down to play a couple of games, one on the old cinder pitch and another on the new field.
Due to a case of strep throat, Mr. Gulliver couldn’t play in the first game.
“Tic-tac-toe, tic-tac-toe, they beat us 19-1,” Baird said.
The team collectively decided they needed Mr. Gulliver in the lineup.
“We brought him over to the clinic and got him a shot of penicillin or something,” he said. “With the difference of him there, they beat us 5-3. That’s the effect he had.”
An outstanding athlete in pretty much any sport he took up, including basketball, baseball, bowling and hockey, he truly made his mark as a soccer player and, as more than one acquaintance would claim, one of the best hunters and salmon fisherman in the province.
Tom Turner was his hunting buddy, their final excursion together occurring just last year, at their usual camp in the woods on the outskirts of Pasadena.
“It was great, we stayed for a couple of nights,” said Turner. “We played cards, told jokes ... Joe was a good man to tell jokes.”
Turner first met Mr. Gulliver back in their younger years, as they would both often be in Corner Brook on the weekends.
“I used to hitchhike to Corner Brook and back home again around 1 o’clock in the morning and Joe would come up from seeing his girlfriend at the time, who became his wife,” said Turner. “I’d get a ride with him every night.
“He was one of the best men I ever knew in my life,” he added. “Joe had it all.”
Baird met Mr. Gulliver through a shared bond of both being from St. John’s, both playing soccer and both marrying west coast girls. Baird arrived in Corner Brook in 1949 and said Mr. Gulliver came here in 1954. He and his family moved to Pasadena in 1962.
“We maintained our friendship over the years,” he said.
No stranger to a kitchen, Mr. Gulliver would lend his culinary talents to anyone that requested them, volunteering to cook for far too many local groups and organizations to mention.
“He was just a good cook and he liked volunteering,” said Baird, who had been to hospital to visit his friend three times over the past 10 days.
He received the news he’d been dreading while sitting in a coffee shop in Pasadena on Monday. As he sipped, someone mentioned Mr. Gulliver had died.
“I got quite a shock,” said Baird. “Although I was expecting it.”
Mr. Gulliver, said Baird, was someone that saw a bit of good in everybody.
“You couldn’t get an argument with him — if you were looking for one and if you were wrong, Joe’s standard reply was, ‘Is that right?,’ even when he knew you were wrong,” Baird said. “He’s the kind of guy that everyone will miss him.
“We’ve all got a few enemies, but I don’t know that he had any.”
Visitation will be 7-9 p.m. today and on Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Holy Rosary Parish in Pasadena, where the funeral mass will also be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday.