Late in his almost 30-year career as a jack-of-all-trades reporter at The Intelligencer, Tom Gavey was voted Belleville’s Most Popular Columnist. It was a well-deserved accolade. Gavey wrote a TV column and rated movies too, but, it was as a sports reporter and columnist that he was most beloved by his myriad readers. Gavey’s weekend sports columns combined the very best of an outstanding writing ability, keen insights, tremendous knowledge of his topic, a razor-sharp wit and a folksy style that appealed to all readers.
Gavey’s first love was softball and he enjoyed covering the various local leagues and following the Belleville McDonald’s when they played in the Ontario Fastball League in the 19701s. But, it was as a hockey writer that Gavey may have made his most indelible imprint on the city’s sports scene. When the Jim’s Pizza juveniles won an All-Ontario championship in 1976, Gavey wrote colourful stories detailing their success.
He graduated to junior hockey and covered the Belleville Bulls for the first 20 years of their existence in the Ontario Hockey League, Gavey’s famous mid-season Bulls report cards were greatly anticipated – and sometimes dreaded – by coaches, players and fans. Away from his desk at The Intelligencer – always piled high with sports magazines and team media guides from the OHL, NHL and Major League Baseball – Gavey demonstrated his versatility by handling the colour commentary on Bulls radio broadcasts. Again, Gavey was with the Bulls on the air from their beginning.
Away from his job writing and talking about sports, Gavey plunged his energies into charity work. He spent 10 years on the executive committee of the Medigas Rick Meagher golf tournament, helping to raise thousands of dollars for the purchase of playground equipment for physically challenged children in Belleville. Suffering from a kidney ailment, Gavey championed various fund raising efforts to assist the local dialysis unit.
Gavey spent time as a minor hockey convener, men’s softball and broomball coach, and working Friday nights at the Quinte Exhibition Raceway. He also served on the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame committee. Educated at Nicholson Catholic College, Gavey attended Ryerson University in Toronto where he studied journalism. He received the Toronto Sun Award for excellence in 1981. Later in his career, in recognition of his valuable contribution to the community, Gavey received a Governor General’s Award Canada 125 medallion. Gavey shunned the limelight, often declaring that being able to live his boyhood dream of covering sports for his hometown newspaper made him the happiest man alive.
In 2002, at the age of 45, Gavey succumbed to kidney disease. That winter, the Bulls honoured his memory by wearing a “TG” patch on their jerseys. Tom would have been tickled.0