Crusher’s legend will live on

Kevin Crusher Conway just loved life and always welcome people to his home

KEVIN CRUSHER CONWAY was a member of the 1955 world champion Penticton V’s. The other photo shows Conway with his wife Deena and the 1954 Allan Cup.

Kevin Crusher Conway just loved life.

“He just welcomed everybody,” said Noreen Conway of her father, a member of the 1955 world champion Penticton V’s, who died on May 8 at age 83. “Always invited people over for dinner.”

Conway’s specialty was barbecued roasts. Noreen’s friends would ask about her father, then the question of his barbecue roasts came up.

He was grateful for everything and family was important to him because his mother died when he was young. Conway ended up being separated from his siblings and lived with his aunt. As his daughter said, Conway never forgot about the family bond.

Noreen, one of four children Conway and wife Deena have, said the biggest thing was that their dad always welcomed their friends.

“Mom and dad’s home was where we could hang,” she said.

They rented a house on Lakeshore Drive and the kids played on the tennis court, played volleyball, listened to music and made ice rinks on the tennis court. He celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, something he cherished and had big barbecues.

What Noreen will miss is his sense of humour and positive outlook.

“He always said the Canucks will never win a Stanley Cup with the Sedin brothers on their team,” she laughed. “The night before he died, was the night the Canucks got beat out. I told him they lost. His last words were they were never going to win anyway because of the Sedins. He hated the Sedins.”

Prior to joining the V’s, Conway played for the Montreal Junior Canadiens, who he won the 1949 Memorial Cup with. According to Noreen, after her father won the world championship, he was the only person to have won a Memorial Cup, Allan Cup and world championship.

Conway earned the nickname Crusher in 1950 following a game against Halifax’s St. Mary’s team with the Charlottetown Islanders. Conway fought (Peanuts) McLaughlin. Because of this fight, and the Islanders win, a young CBC radio announcer named Danny Gallivan went to the dressing room to interview the player who fought Peanuts. When Danny asked to speak to Kevin Conway, all his teammates shouted out: “His name’s not Kevin, it’s The Crusher.” Gallivan then referred to Kevin on air as Crusher from that day forward.

Conway moved to Penticton to play for the V’s and met his wife during a coffee outing with his other teammates.

Conway asked if she was interested in going to a movie, but Deena apologized, saying she had night classes. It was in the winter so Conway offered to pick her up.

“Needless to say, that night class didn’t last that long,” said Deena, laughing.

They dated for three years. Deena recalls the first time seeing her husband during a V’s game, and it was during the player announcements.

“I turned to my dad and said that little short-ass thing is going to save our hockey team?” said Deena, adding that her father got upset with her.

Conway’s teammate Ivan McLelland recalls his favourite memory of the defenceman.

“I think his finest moment, which would have affected me, was in the 102nd hockey game of 1954 against Sudbury for the national championship,” said McLelland. “Kevin had played a lot of hockey. The last five minutes of that game, was probably his finest. He didn’t go off the ice. Wouldn’t go off actually. Blocked shots and hung in there with me. They were all over us and had us on our last legs.”

McLelland said Conway loved to reminisce about the old days. The two would go for drives in Penticton and enjoy a coffee parked along Lakeshore Drive while talking about the world championship.

“He would say, “You know, you got a lot of credit for that, but you didn’t really deserve it. It was me that did it,” laughed McLelland.

The goalie would fire back saying he played every minute of the 102 games while Conway took breaks.

“He loves to laugh about it,” joked McLelland, who admired Conway’s larger-than-life personality. “We didn’t always agree. He was very outgoing.”

McLelland described Conway as a tough, hard-nosed stay-at-home player.

“He wasn’t a particularly good skater. He made up for that in other ways,” said McLelland, who is sad and relieved by his friends death. “Very, very dedicated. Just the kind of player that every team wants to have.”

While Conway was known for his hockey accomplishments, he was also a successful businessman.

He operated a Chevron on the corner of Carmi and Main and opened the first self-serve gas stations. He also owned Dairy Queen.

While only having a Grade 9 education, Deena said her husband was taught a strong work ethic by his uncle, especially how to behave. Noreen describes it as having an old-fashioned work ethic.

“He was a very strong working man,” said Noreen. “No-nonsense kind of guy. A lot of fun. Gave praise where praise was needed.”

Noreen said Conway was known by people for the Dairy Queen he owned and shared a story of him trying to learn to curl the tip of an ice cream cone.

“You could not open your shop until you mastered that,” said Noreen. “He just couldn’t get the hang of it. This little kid comes up to the window you slide things through, and is tapping his coin at the wicket. ‘Mister, I’d like a cone. He is just sweating bullets trying to get this cone made. Finally he did it. He went over to the window and the little boy slid the money over and dad slipped the coin back. He told the kid this is for you. He never forgot that little boy’s face. Never forgot the pressure he faced from a little kid tapping his coin.”

Deena laughed as the Conway was always between ice cream and gasoline. He worked with Chevron for 35 years.

On Saturday will be the memorial service for Conway at St. Ann’s Catholic Church at 11 a.m. That will be followed by a celebration in the reception hall.

“We’re celebrating his life, we’re not mourning,” said Noreen. “He had health issues the last seven years. If it wasn’t for the great care of the local doctors and ER here, Dr. David Kincade and Dr. Jack Kooy, we would have lost dad a long time ago. Very grateful to them. They treated dad with such great humour and respect. Nurses were fantastic. The hospital was awesome.”


Just Posted

Skiers in the groove at Apex

Competitors in full swing at Canadian Selections this weekend.

Penticton Subway making it fresh for Soupateria

Subway shops are donating 600 inches of subs, 100 cookies and drinks to Soupateria Dec. 20

What’s shaking at the museum

Kids got to learn about earthquakes Saturday at the museum.

All aboard the Summerland Christmas Express

The first train of the Summerland Christmas Express schedule.

Vees drop heartbreaker in West Kelowna, host Teddy Bear Toss Saturday

Penticton loses overtime game to West Kelowna Warriors

All aboard the Summerland Christmas Express

The first train of the Summerland Christmas Express schedule.

Kamloops RCMP warning public to stay away from unfolding domestic dispute

The public is being asked to avoid Sabiston Creek Road off of the highway

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of sexual harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

Column: Make it a green Christmas

Instead of purchasing a cuddly stuffie this year, put your money towards helping the real thing.

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

Most Read