Gilson will be missed on pitch, court

How can you encapsulate 20 plus years of memories into a speech that will take only a few minutes to read?
That’s the overwhelming task local resident Jim Curr had to ponder as he prepared the eulogy for his friend, Coun. Struchan Gilson, 63, who passed away suddenly at his home here last Thursday.
“I usually wing things, but not this time,” Curr said yesterday afternoon, referring to the eulogy he would read during Gilson’s funeral service this morning at the ’52 Canadians Arena.
“Usually when I start something, I finish it as quickly as I can,” Curr remarked. “But I found I had to do this a couple of hours at a time because there is a lot of revision and going back through things, and it can get very emotional.”
The memories began in 1984 with a phone call.
“Years ago, I had been able to convince [former FFHS athletic director] Jimmy Martindale that high school soccer for NorWOSSA was a good idea,” Curr recalled.
“The plan was to see if any students were interested in playing soccer and if we could get it going.
“Struchan got wind of it through school circles [Gilson was a teacher at Robert Moore School at the time]. He gave me a phone call and asked if I needed any help and I said sure.
“And the day of the first practice, the two of us were out there and we were looking at about 100 kids,” Curr added. “And we’ve been friends ever since.”
Soccer didn’t encompass all of Gilson’s existence, but the world’s most popular sport was a huge part of the Englishman’s life.
He loved the game that so many love. His desire was evident in the way he played, in the way he coached, and in the way he refereed.
“He just loved being around the game,” said Curr.
That Gilson did, and great desire usually breeds great success. Certainly, Gilson had his share as a coach for the Muskie girls’ soccer team over 18 seasons.
“He [Gilson] was always impressed with the speed of the game. He always liked to see players play with pace,” Curr remarked. “He didn’t like the European and South American style, where the ball goes sideways as much as it goes forward.”
“He looked to see the ball move down the wing and crossed over, and he liked hard tackles and liked the British style of game. He loved to see the game played full out and at 100 percent,” Curr added.
Gilson also was a coaching fixture for the Muskie senior girls’ volleyball team, which he coached along with Rick Wiedenhoeft, who later sat next to Gilson at the town council table.
Through sport, Gilson always tried to teach the lessons of life. “While teaching was his profession, coaching was his passion,” read a part of Gilson’s obituary.
“He was a very genuine man and a very principled man,” described Curr. “He had a set of beliefs and a code of ethics that he lived by and he lived by that code.
“It didn’t matter whether it was sports or municipal politics or whatever—that’s how he lived,” he stressed.
“He used to get very disappointed when he thought people he dealt with at any level, whether it was through soccer or municipal politics, were looking after their own interests rather than looking at what they were supposed to be doing,” added Curr.
Gilson, who was born in Coleraine, Great Britain, was an athletic individual. He always could be spotted running up and down the streets of Fort Frances, skating at the Ice for Kids Arena, or running on the pitch at the St. Francis Sportsfields.
A memorial soccer game will be played there by a group of former Muskies, who had been coached by Gilson, this Sunday at 2 p.m.
“That’s very nice of them to do that, and [for the Borderland Soccer Association finals on Monday night] they had the armbands going and the family was there and they were touched by what they had done,” said Curr.
Though Gilson was Curr’s senior by 14 years, the pair always found time to talk about world soccer events (and debate other issues) on a regular basis.
“What am I going to miss about him? Well, I have very straight standards like him and I’ll miss Struchan being around because we used to share information with each other just for feedback and ask things like, ‘Am I doing the right thing here? Am I thinking the right way?’” said Curr.
He added he would always get a phone call from Gilson either on Saturday evening or Sunday morning, asking him what he thought of the Saturday soccer matches that had been played in Europe.
Curr saw Gilson two nights before he passed away. “I don’t say that he looked ill, but I do say that he looked tired. He looked really, really tired.”
And understandably so. His son, Garfield, had passed away suddenly only a few weeks earlier. And many in the community have said that Gilson didn’t pass away from a heart attack, but rather a broken heart.
Gilson touched the lives of many and magnified the better half of his players, his friends, and his loved ones. There’s no question he will be missed.
“I’ll miss my friend very much,” Curr said.