A Tribute to Don Coy
Don Coy led a remarkably full and rewarding life. Among his many achievements were raising eight children, running two businesses – including the baseball camp, and earning a commission as a major league scout for the Cleveland Indians.
“Achievement Award: Chamber Honors Don Coy,”
Don Coy of Oliver has been named this year’s recipient of the South Okanagan Achievement Award. Coy, who’s been involved in community life here for more than 40 years, earned a standing ovation from the 125 people at Saturday night’s Chamber of Commerce installation dinner. The certificate which went along with the beautiful trophy outlined some of his many achievements, in particular Coy’s involvement with the game of baseball. Of special note was the founding of the Okanagan Major League Baseball Camp in 1960, a camp which over the years has attracted literally thousands of people to the South Okanagan. A characteristically-modest Coy said afterwards “I didn’t realize I had done so much.” Dave Wight and Frank Stariha made the presentation on behalf of the Oliver chamber.
The South Okanagan Achievement Award was originally presented by the communities of Oliver and Osoyoos to the Sisters of St. Ann in 1973, for their 30 years of dedicated service in the operation of St. Martin’s Hopital. The Rotary Clubs of Oliver and Osoyoos donated the fine trophy which goes with the award; the Oliver and Osoyoos chambers jointly chose the recipients; and an annual tradition was born. After a few years the Osoyoos chamber dropped out but, Oliver chamber felt the award could and should be continued.
After the Sisters of St. Ann, the winners were: Bill Dell; The Osoyoos Legion Branch; The Oliver Legion Branch; the late Wally Smith; Steve Mepham; the Oliver Kiwanis Club; Alex Gough (who was in the audience Saturday night); the Oliver Kinsmen Club; the Oliver Elks Lodge; the Oliver Fire Department; Art Garrish; And, last year, the three auxiliaries to the South Okanagan General Hospital. The certificate presented to Don Coy on Saturday night reads as follows: “The Oliver and District Chamber of Commerce is privileged to this year recognize the outstanding record of community service and achievements compiled over the course of more than 40 years by the founder of the Okanagan Major League Baseball Camp, Don Coy.
“Born and raised in Penticton, Don and his wife “Willie” arrived in Oliver in the mid-1940s. He set up a successful butcher shop on Main Street, a business he operated for more than 30 years and which still carries his name today. “In the early 1960s, with the aid of Paul Eisenhut and others, he helped build and establish the Cherry Grove golf course. In later years, his barbecued steaks on men’s night became legendary at the club. He also built and owned the Cherry Grove Motel and Campsite.
“He’s a past member of the Knights of Columbus, the Elks, and the Legion. He’s an active member, and former president, of the Oliver chapter of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International. Don was a supporter of the SOSS school work program, and the Oliver food coordinator for the B.C. Winter Games. “It is his continuing love affair with the game of baseball, however, which deserves special note. He played as both shortstop and outfielder for the Oliver Baseball Club in the late ’40s and early ’50s, and coached after retiring as a player. He also coached Little League, and was a member of te Oliver Baseball Society, which over the years donated thousands of dollars to various groups and individuals. “In the summer of 1960 Don and some fellow baseball buffs established the Okanagan Major League Baseball Camp in Oliver, which has taught thousands of young men “to play baseball the professional way” and to have fun doing itl. It’s attracted players from throughout Western Canada and the United States, and has helped promote this community far and wide. “Along with all that, Don and Willie also found time to raise a family of eight children, no small achievement in itself. “Well done, Don.”
Don contributed much to the town of Oliver as well, and for that he was recognized in 1987, with the South Okanagan Achievement Award.
By Lisa Joy, Oliver Chronicle, Thursday, August 8, 2002