More than a decade later, you realize the smile never really left Bill Boland’s face.
Flash back to the summer of 2010, and Boland, a driving force behind the bid to bring the 2013 ISU World Figure Skating Championships to his adopted hometown of London, Ont., is elated, almost euphoric, after the southwestern Ontario city is awarded figure skating’s crown jewel event.
Over a volunteer career that spanned four decades, it is certainly one of his proudest moments.
Boland, who passed away August 26th after a courageous battle with cancer, is being remembered as a former Chair of the Western Ontario Section, Skate Canada Board Member and Finance Chair, Honorary Member of Skate Canada, and a tireless figure skating volunteer who spent much of his life giving back to the sport.
Each time those 2013 world championships were brought up in conversation, Boland’s face would beam with pride. The affable, charismatic insurance executive had a personal connection to London 2013 and would go on to chair the event that was an undeniable success for Skate Canada and the city.
“While he led his team to establish Worlds in London as a pinnacle event still talked about today, Bill epitomised the spirit and will of a true volunteer – passion, commitment, longevity, and selfless engagement. He helped shape the Skate Canada we know today”, stated Skate Canada President Leanna Caron.
“Bill carried the respect of the volunteer community and a sound business acumen to our organization. It is because of people like him, who give so much to our sport without expecting anything in return, that Skate Canada is one of the pre-eminent figure skating organizations in the world. He will be missed by all of us in the Skate Canada family.”
Boland’s work in bringing the 2013 world championships to London led him to being honoured as London’s 2014 sports person of the year award. He was also the recipient of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Citizenship Award in March 2013, just before London hosted the world championships. He also received an Ontario Sports Council Award for lifetime commitment to the sport.
He is survived by Maureen, his wife of 50 years, daughters Tammy and Traci Lynn and granddaughter Hailey.
Boland joined the London Skating Club’s Board of Directors 40 years ago, moved on to serve as Western Ontario Section Chair and then sat for many years on Skate Canada’s board of directors and many of its committees. In his quiet manner, his sense of fairness, financial skill and business acumen enhanced all deliberations assisting these bodies to successfully further the sport of figure skating.
As well, through his encouragement, he helped pave the way for top figure skaters, including six-time Canadian champion Jennifer Robinson and world and Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
In January, Boland attended the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Mississauga, where he saw Robinson inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame. Boland, an avid sports fan, was also a long-time supporter of the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights.
He was always there with a handshake, a smile and, more often than not, a story.
“Bill gave so much to our sport and always did what was best for Skate Canada and our athletes,” says Skate Canada High Performance Director Mike Slipchuk.
President Leanna Caron adds: “Bill shaped an environment for youth, for champions, for people”.