- 1996 Ivan Velan Award Recipient
(from Racquetball Canada Archives – source BCRA Newsletter, Vol I, no. 5, June-August 1999)
On May 10, 1999, the world of racquetball lost one of its most passionate advocates. Rodney Lee succumbed to the cancer which he had been battling for the past couple of years.
Rodney had not played much competitively for several years, but he was a long-time presence on the BCRA Board and more recently on the Racquetball Canada Executive. To both organizations, Rodney brought his accounting skills and his organizational skills to the table. In fact, in 1996 Rodney was awarded the prestigious Ivan Velan award in recognition of his work to, almost single-handedly, manoeuver to Racquetball Canada back into a position of financial health. The current excellent financial state of the National association is in no small part due to Rodney’s work.
B.C. racquetball players remember Rodney’s ever-present smile. You could always talk to Rodney. He was hard to get to know – many people who knew Rodney for a dozen years have said they still felt they did not really know him – and yet almost without exception, Rodney is remembered as a friendly and approachable man.
And for those who did get to know Rodney Lee, they appear to have been fortunate, because the depth of love for Rodney shown by racquetball people such as Ron Hughes, Dave Arsenault and David Hinton proves Rodney was a first-rate friend.
In BCRA business and Racquetball Canada business, we all loved to fight with Rodney – accountability was all-important to this accountant. I newver saw him get mad at a meeting – he just would stick to his guns, using logic rather than bullying or anger – a characteristic that more people could learn from. And Rodney wasn’t unreasonable – he and I had many a struggle of wills and logic, listening to each other, adjusting our positions, arriving at a place of understanding and compromise. Rodney was really good at getting people to see his point of view, buy also readily responded to other reasoned arguments.
For several years, Rodney held two of more positions with the BCRA and Racquetball Canada. We used to joke with him about what “hat” he was wearing – and eventually he would preface his remarks with “I’m wearing my Racquetball Canada hat now” or “This is my BCRA hat.”
Rodney was unquestionably a wonderful family man – seeing him interact with Audrey, Jim and Katie was immediate proof of that. Two people with two of the best laughs in the world fell in love and married : Rodney and Audrey Lee. Even their song – Neil Sedaka’s “Walking in the Rain” – illustrates their sense of humour and their love for each other.
Racquetball was one of Rodney’s loves. He gave so much of himself to the sport, spending many hours each and every week working on, thinking about and planning for Racquetball Canada’s success and future. We will miss his presence, but we can be thankful that we had the benefit of Rodney Lee’s energy and spirit and contributions9