Kamloops Blazers’ president and COO Don Moores is being mourned and remember by many in the community following his sudden death on June 30.
Moores collapsed at about noon that day while golfing at the Kamloops Golf and Country Club.
Club general manager Alec Hubert was among those who raced to Hole 3 with cold water and medical equipment, including a defibrillator, to tend to Moores until an ambulance arrived.
“We went out there and did the best we could,” Hubert said. “I’m obviously shook up.”
The Blazers released a statement regarding his passing.
“Don was a dedicated family man and a pillar in the community being born and raised in Kamloops. Don worked tirelessly over the past five years in making the Kamloops Blazers a leading organization in the WHL. The Blazers family is devastated at the loss. Don and his family are in our thoughts and prayers at this time.”
Moores was playing his 12th hole of the day, as he started his round on the back nine.
“I chatted with him in the morning,” Hubert said. “The whole day, he was just so tickety-boo. He stopped in after nine holes, grabbed a sandwich.
“It’s a sad day. Donnie is a true gem, salt of the earth, give-the-shirt-of-his-back type of guy. That guy commands all kinds of respect. I don’t know what to say about it.”
Moores was hired by the Blazers on June 30, 2016.
“It’s pretty devastating for everybody. He was a pillar for Kamloops and a big pillar for his family and a pillar for the Blazers, a guy that has so much energy and positivity, just an irreplaceable person to the organization and for his family, as well,” Blazers’ director of hockey operations Tim O’Donovan said.
O’Donovan last spoke to Moores the day before he died.
“Just typical Don, always with a smile on his face, a lot of positivity and cheerfulness,” O’Donovan said.
“He had such a good read on people. If you were struggling, he had a way of making you feel good pretty quick. He was such a hard worker and he’ll be sorely missed, for sure.”
Moores was born and raised in Kamloops. He became publisher of Kamloops This Week within its first two years of operation after it started publishing in 1988. He later served as a regional president for parent company Black Press.
Kamloops Coun. Dale Bass worked with Moores for a number of years upon her arrival at Kamloops This Week in 2000.
Bass was reporter and, later, assistant editor of KTW when Moores was regional vice-president and in an office just down the hall from Bass and the newsroom.
“Don Moores was the kind of newspaper executive whose door was always open,” Bass said.
“He was always up for a chat about the paper, the weather, the Blazers — anything at all. He was one of us. He wasn’t ‘just a suit,’ but a man who cared about everyone who worked at KTW and we all cared about him. I believe that speaks volumes for what a wonderful person he was and what a proud Kamloopsian he was.”
Moores played junior hockey for the Kamloops Chiefs from 1973 to 1976 and was an assistant coach for the Kamloops Blazers from 1985 to 1990.
Moores left the city on multiple occasions to pursue employment opportunities — including stints in Red Deer and Nanaimo — but always returned to the Tournament Capital.
Members of the Black Press family are remembering their former colleague as a kind, thoughtful person who always had time for anyone.
Rick O’Connor, president and chief executive officer for Black Press — and the person who founded KTW in 1988 — said he was shocked and saddened to hear of Moores passing.
O’Connor hired Moores in 1989 to be the advertising director at the newspaper and worked with him again between 1998 until about 2008, when Moores was a regional president for Black Press in the Interior.
“He was very hardworking, he was always positive, he was a great leader,” O’Connor said. “He was a taskmaster, but he did it in such a way that you felt part of this ongoing team and mission.”
O’Connor said Moores inspired people around him to perform better in their jobs and took that same approach to his passion for hockey.
Ron Lovestone, longtime publisher of the Salmon Arm Observer, worked with Moores for about 13 years, between 1995 and 2008.
He said Moores was always a “straight shooter.”
“What you see is what you got — terrific insight with people and he really cared,” Lovestone said, adding Moores’ passing came as a shock, since he was always very physically fit.
Lorie Williston worked with Moores for years — at one point as his vice-president of the Black Press Interior division.
She said she still can’t believe Moores has died.
“It still doesn’t seem real,” she said.
Williston, who is currently president of Black Press for Northern B.C., said Moores always had an open door and was a real leader.
“One of his huge strengths was how approachable he was. He always had time for anyone and everyone and was there for them,” she said.
Williston said Moores was also a bit of a jokester and she still pictures the huge smile that was often on his face.
“If Don Moores was in a room, you knew it. You couldn’t help but be drawn to the guy and he was always so upbeat,” she said.
Mark Warner started out as Moores’ employee in the 1990s as a Black Press publisher in Cranbrook and Vernon.
He remembers his former boss as “very demanding, but fair” and “everybody’s dream boss.”
“He was very good at giving you constructive criticism,” Warner said, adding he credits Moores’ teachings for helping him become president of Black Press’ Vancouver Island division.
Warner, now retired, said Moores cared about his employees and always put family first.
He said Moores always felt people should love what they do and excel at it, too.
“Being such an athlete, he was very competitive. He wanted to win, but to do it right and do it fairly,” Warner said.
Asked if he carries with him any stories about Moores, Warner laughed and recalled one “heated discussion” in Vernon in which they didn’t see eye-to-eye on a topic.
Ten minutes after leaving each other’s company without the issue settled, they crossed paths and Moores said, “So, you want to go for lunch?”
“And off we went like nothing had happened. We agreed to disagree. We both respected that,” Warner said. “While he still was my boss at the time, we were friends too.”
This past Saturday, three days after Moores’ death, Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian completed Moores’ last round of golf at Kamloops Golf and Country Club.
“I played KGCC, said a prayer of thanks to a great friend on [hole] three and then carried on the round the way I am sure Don would have wanted,” Christian told KTW via text.
Christian noted that he worked closely with Moores on the restart plan for the Western Hockey League during the last eight months and on marketing for the Kamloops Blazers for the past four years.
He said Moores was “honest to a fault” and always focused on the players.
“A great guy,” Christian said.
A celebration of life will be held on Tuesday, July 13, at 1 p.m. at Sandman Centre. The public is welcome.