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Wabush pioneer Mike Coady gone, but will never be forgotten

Old photo of Mike Coady,(l) throwing a punch
Old photo of Mike Coady,(l) throwing a punch

LAB WEST - Mike Coady was a young man when he left Marystown on the Burin peninsula heading for Wabush in 1962.

Born in 1943, he was a young energetic man who would adopt his new community of Wabush with open arms. Open arms that went on to embrace the community, its residents, and over his years there, make a positive difference in so many lives.

Many of the people who spoke with the Aurora said "Mike had personality, charm, style, compassion, a desire to help, and as one post on Facebook said "The only thing bigger than his smile was his heart.”

Many people have different memories of Mike. He was first and foremost remembered as a boxer. Mike "The Bull" Coady, as he was affectionately known. His prowess as a boxer made him a legend in Labrador West. Others remember seeing him run, from Wabush out towards Fermont with weights on his legs and arms.

He could do push-ups, and never stop ...clapping his hands between pushes.

However, those were just a few things that people remember.

"Mike was known as one of the best dressed men in Labrador West," John McGregor told the Aurora.

White suits, and lots of classy jewelry, was one of his trademarks.

McGregor, the first baby born in Wabush, was a, friend of Mikes.

"When I was younger I decided to join boxing. Mike was my mentor, I learned so much from him, and we remained friends for life,” he told the Aurora.

McGregor delivered the eulogy at Mike’s funeral. One of the things he noted was Mike’s commitment to family and community.

“His family remembers him as the one who praised them and had their back," he said, but he also cared for his community as well. Mike was a volunteer extraordinaire...the Peggy Lewis walk, ALS, the ride for sight, the cancer foundation, the Legion, too many to list.  "When he decided to volunteer and go door to door, he did that, door to every door in the community.”

McGregor said he was awarded the Lolly McGregor volunteer of the year award for his efforts, which meant a lot to not just Mike but to John as well. (Lolly was John's mother who was honoured for the countless hours she volunteered in Wabush, and the Lolly McGregor award is presented annually in her honour.)

Of course, anybody who knew Mike Coady knew of his passion for motorcycles. He could be seen on his bike, cruising the highways, as always dressed in the best of leather bike gear...always classy. It was fitting that for his funeral his bike was parked outside the church, and his son Mike rode his father’s bike in a special parade of his biker friends, from the church to the cemetery.

Oh and did you know, he was also a guitar player, and singer...

The tributes to Mike Coady and some of the stories about him on Facebook and other social media sites show just how much he was loved and respected.

Long-time friend Sherry Munn named one of her dogs "Coady."  

Why?

“It was a boxer, as was Mike," Munn told the Aurora. “Mike’s personality possessed a joie de vivre that was infectious. He had such a sunny disposition...it was magical just to be in his presence, his smile will never leave us.”

Another story that surfaced was about his time when he worked as a bartender at the local Wabush hotel. Called in when it got busy, Coady the ultimate dresser arrived at work with his shirt inside out. As Coady and his co-worker went outside for a break, and for Coady get time to turn his shirt inside out his boss, the then well-known hotel manager Alphonse Rudkowski, approached him and admonished Coady by saying Mr. Mr. (his favourite way to address people) don't you know how to dress yourself.

However, he certainly did...and just a week before passing, he attended the opening ceremonies of the Wabush 50th anniversary ceremonies, dressed in his signature white suit. His health meant he watched from a nearby vehicle, but was acknowledged by all in attendance for the difference he made in so many lives.

The quote on Facebook said it so well. "The only thing bigger than his smile was his heart.”

And, as the line in the well-known Joni Mitchell song says:

"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't you know what you got till it's gone."

The many people in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada and in places all over the world who knew Mike Coady are probably singing this right now.

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