Community pays tribute to a well-known hockey legend in Rimbey

Story of Vern Poffenroth and hockey in Rimbey including West Stars

Rimbey Midgets Captain Brett Scott faces off with West Stars alumni player

 

For many years the game of hockey and the name Vern Poffenroth were completely interchangeable in the town of Rimbey.

For many years he gave his all to the sport in this community.

On Oct. 15 the community gathered to give tribute to Poffenroth and to say thanks.

Poffenroth passed away on July 17 after a lengthy battle with lung cancer.

His legacy, however, lives on.

A decision to change the name of the arena to the Vern Poffenroth arena was met with unanimous approval from town council and plans began several months ago to invite the Poffenroth family to the name change.

A game between Rimbey Midgets and the alumni of the West Stars Junior B hockey teams was also arranged.

Bev Poffenroth recalled the event as a wonderful, special time she will cherish forever.

In a voice choked with emotion and fighting back the tears, she recalled being called on the ice with her family for the face off.

“Looking into the stands, seeing all the people Vern had touched. It was an awesome feeling, just overwhelming.”

Poffenroth said her husband was a people person with a special fondness for young people.

“He loved kids. If he could do anything to keep kids off the streets, occupied, he would do it.”

She said the family moved to Rimbey in 1974 and her husband, when he learned the Midgets needed a coach, volunteered for the position.

“He came home and said ‘what the hell have I got myself into?’” she recalled with a laugh.

His first coaching stint proved to be the beginning of many years as coach. With the help of Vern Belt, who came up with the name, West Stars and Delbert Stevenson, who created the hockey crest, The West Stars Junior Bs were born.

The Poffenroths eventually moved into Rimbey and Vern and Bev took over running the arena.

“Our kids were rink rats,” said Poffenroth. “They often did their homework there. And putting the ice in was a family affair. The kids really helped out.”

Poffenroth recalled her husband as a man who smiled and laughed a lot and was always there to lend a helping hand.

Often when driving the zamboni he would don a jersey of the home team and then a jersey for the other team, meanwhile gathering donations for the arena from fans of that team.

He had a skate sharpening business at the arena and people would come from Red Deer to the Rimbey arena to get their skates sharpened.

Vern and Bev Poffenroth spent several years at Osoyoos entertainment hosts for the NK MIP campground there. It was a job they were well suited to and they both enjoyed the experience.

They also helped out at Peaceful Valley, a day lodge for nursing home residents.

When Poffenroth became too ill to continue working, the couple moved to Rimbey where he was close to the hospital.

Poffenroth is humbled and honoured by the ceremony held last Saturday in honour of her late husband.

“It was so classy,” she said. “I never thought they would actually name something after Vern.”