It’s been said that the value of a man is not measured by what he does for himself, but measured by what he does in the lives of others. During the past number of days, thousands of people are remembering the impact of such a man. His name was Daryl, and I called him uncle.
On this earth Daryl Faught was known and loved by countless people who were privileged to cross his path. In the wake of his passing, memories are surfacing and stories are being shared. Daryl had a way about him that left a lasting impression. He was a ‘once you met him, you would never forget him’ kind of guy. That’s because legends never die, and Daryl Faught was a legend. And like other legends, it began with the game of hockey and an outdoor rink.
As a young boy Daryl took to the game of hockey naturally and began to dominate at the local Snake River rink. In 1964, with Daryl, the Snake River Allstars won it all. At sixteen Daryl was invited to go north and try out for the Espanola Junior A’s. Red Sullivan was the coach at the time and took a shining to Daryl’s offensive ability. As a natural sniper, Daryl seemed to be able to find the net and score with ease. However, after making the team Daryl decided to come back to the family farm. Not too long afterwards, Red Sullivan personally called the Faught farm trying to find a way for Daryl to come back. But Daryl did not return.
Later in life, Daryl found hockey again, but this time it was behind the bench as a coach. He was a natural and had instant success at the local level. I was fortunate enough to play for Daryl during his inaugural 1989-90 season when we won the local league. Setting his sights beyond the local league play, Daryl continued to win at all levels and mould players into winning teams.
In 1994 he won the Upper Ottawa Valley Midget championship. In 1996 he won with the Muskrat Midget Voyageurs. In 1998 he won the Triple A Summer ETA title.
He was coach of the year in 2001 and 2002 with his championship team, the Muskrat Midget Voyageurs.
In 2005 he won the Eastern Ontario Valley Division title with the Shawville Junior B’s.
In 2009-2010 he won with the Upper Ottawa Valley Aces.
In 2010 he announced his retirement.
In 2012 he returned.
In 2013-14, Daryl coached the Upper Ottawa Valley Major Midgets, the Aces, to win it all one last time.
Wow. What a record.
All in all, you could say that hundreds of players in the Ottawa Valley were impacted by Daryl’s hockey knowledge and demand for effort. I am sure that Daryl’s players were told multiple times that his ‘mother could skate faster’ than they were going, and that his ‘two sisters could shoot the puck harder’ than they could. I remember hearing those words during some on-ice drills and thinking the exact opposite, but never dreamed to voice that my grandmother, aunt and mother probably never shot a puck or skated in a hockey practice their entire lives. I simply put my head down and attempted to skate faster and shoot harder. So did hundreds more. This was coach Daryl’s way, and he made good players become great ones.
Daryl was also a celebrated ‘cattle man’, and took over the farm that I knew as Grandpa’s. It was originally known as the old Ready farm on Durack line (near Osceola), but was now the place where Daryl would flourish in the beef industry. I admit that all beef cows look like BBQ to me, but Daryl could see and value the quality of steers like no other. His beloved herd was dear to him because he built it himself from the ground up. With hard work, determination and a committed drive to succeed, Daryl made extraordinary things happen on that ranch. That’s because Daryl was an extraordinary man, and became so by accomplishing extraordinary things.
Beginning with Charlais, but switching to Black Angus, Daryl’s herd grew to become renowned in the Valley and beyond. By initialling buying and bringing in small herds from the west, Daryl eventually started to mould his herd into prized cattle. Generations of cattle were now being registered as D&K Angus. This was Daryl’s brand.
Having an eye for cattle, Daryl’s keen breeding insight soon generated an entire herd that was admired for its consistency and quality. Among the Canadian Angus Association, Daryl received high praise for the superlative qualities of his cattle. His herd became a benchmark for other aspiring breeders and was living proof of Daryl’s exceptional breeding. Even now, D&K Angus will continue producing quality bovines for years to come. It’s as if Daryl is still living and impacting farms today via his cattle creation.
This leads me to another aspect of Daryl’s life: carbon. Daryl was an ironworker, and spent many years together with his brother (my uncle Jack) in the wild west of Canada and beyond working and walking the ‘high-steel’. Daryl sparked and riveted his way to the top of the ranks and became one of the best metal workers in the industry. As a foreman, he and his gangs completed countless structures, projects and buildings in the Province of Ontario, but especially within Renfrew County, base Petawawa and Atomic Energy (AECL). Think about it. There would literally be thousands upon thousands of welds, rivets and beams that Daryl would personally have had his hand on. His skill and professionalism in the guild was felt across the nation. Daryl was simply one of the best.
During his final days leading up to his passing, the president of the local Steel workers union called and told him that he was a ‘legend in the industry’. That kind gesture reinforced something that we all knew: Daryl’s life was an epic saga and worthy of folklore.
Finally, there was also a deep side to Daryl’s life that I will refer to as conviction. Daryl was a man of faith and deep conviction. You didn’t have to be around him long to know that there was something solid in and about his life. You could tell that he had a connection that went beyond this world. He did.
Daryl was not a church-goer, but was committed to serving God nonetheless. As a follower of Jesus, Daryl embodied the gospel or lived it outside the walls of a building by doing good deeds. Daryl was no softy, but underneath the rugged cowboy exterior was a tender heart of unconditional love. Living by the Golden Rule, Daryl sought to treat others better than himself. Whether it was purchasing airfare for a friend, or delivering food to a neighbour, Daryl was always going the extra mile and was always willing to lend his helping hand. In this way Daryl resembled the One who said, “Love your neighbour as yourself”. This was Daryl, and this was his way of expressing the love of God.
This made Daryl a delight to be around and fun to be with. There was an attractive quality about him that won the hearts of many. Even in his final months, many medical doctors, nurses, and hospital staff admired his positive outlook and upbeat style. ‘It’s all in the Lord’s hands’ Daryl would often say. After receiving the initial bad news that he would only have a few months to live, Daryl determined that he would ‘make it to my birthday’, and then maybe ‘I’ll make to Christmas’. Months went by, and then a whole year. Daryl had surpassed all medical timelines that were given. That was his way. He kept on keeping on day after day.
Yes, Daryl did eventually succumb to cancer, and on January 14, 2022, seventeen months after the initial diagnosis, Daryl Faught went home to heaven. But his story did not end that day.
In the twinkling of an eye, or in the flash of light, Daryl was escorted from the farmhouse in Osceola to the fields of heaven. As his lungs exhaled here on earth, they inhaled heaven’s fresh air in eternity. As his eyes closed here on earth, they were reopened in paradise. Daryl had passed through the Valley of Death.
As Daryl opened his eyes, his first sight was the face of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene. Daryl’s hands that once gripped wire and metal now extended towards the Hand of the Master who bid him welcome. His ears now heard the voice of angels and cheers from others who gathered to welcome him home. In an instant Daryl was surrounded and re-united with his mother Laura and father Elmer who lovingly embraced their son and welcomed him home.
I can almost see it myself and feel the reality of it in my soul. That’s because Daryl and I share the same faith and have trusted the same Person with our very lives. His name is Jesus and Daryl knew Him well.
Today, I know that Daryl is truly home with God. But for those of us left behind, we must continue our journey on this side of eternity. I realize that losing loved ones is never easy and can bring a certain shadow or valley-like feel. Grief is like that, and journeying through any loss event takes time.
For Aunt Kathy and others, the memory of Daryl will continue to generate a full scale range of emotions that is rooted in rich memory. I pray that we will all embrace the genuiness of his life, and allow ourselves to be changed because of it. For me, I will remember my uncle Daryl as simply the best hockey coach, cattle-man, and man of carbon-steel that I ever knew. I will also reflect upon and be thankful for how he demonstrated his commitment to the way of Jesus.
Uncle Daryl, I will fondly remember our final talks together on the farm and look over our text message thread often. I will also look forward to playing shinny on one of the many rinks in eternity with you some day. I’ll bet that you’re already teaching some of the OT saints the art of the game and how to rip it top shelf where they keep the peanut butter. I also know that there are still some moves up your sleeve that you didn’t get around to showing all your pupils yet.
I guess that leaves all of us with some time to hone up our hockey skills here on earth.
Until we lace up in eternity uncle …
** Special thanks to my cousin ,Tara Faught, for all the hockey info, and for being Daryl’s hockey travel companion and greatest fan.