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Vancouver Olympic chairman laid to rest

Jack Poole loses battle to pancreatic cancer hours after Olympic Flame lit



The 2010 Games lost one of its true champions last week with the passing of Vancouver 2010 chairman Jack Poole.

His funeral service was held Tuesday at Vancouver's Christ Church Cathedral.

The 76-year-old Saskatchewan native died, after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer, Friday, Oct. 23, just hours after the Olympic torch was lit in Greece.

Before he passed Poole heard the news of its lighting from both B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and John Furlong, the CEO of the 2010 Vancouver Organizing Committee.

"This is such sad news for us all," said Furlong in a statement.

"Jack was a man of great passion and drive, and we had all hoped and prayed that he would live to experience the Games he played such a major role in securing for Canada.

"He had so looked forward to the Olympic Flame lighting, and when I talked to him... we made plans to visit soon to show him pictures of Greece and the magnificent Lighting Ceremony. I thank God he was still with us when the Olympic Flame was ignited.

"I called him immediately afterwards to provide a play-by-play description of the moving ceremony at which International Olympic Committee President Dr. Jacques Rogge paid particular tribute to Jack's immense contribution. Jack was extremely moved by the day and truly felt he had come as close to being there as possible. I am so grateful I was able to share that with him and truly believe that Jack was then ready to say goodbye and passed away at the close of that same day."

Said Jim Godfrey, head of Whistler's Olympic Games Office and who worked with Poole: "Jack Poole was a great leader, mentor and friend to many. His leadership was key to the success of the Vancouver 2010 bid and has been instrumental in creating an exceptional organizing committee that will deliver extraordinary Games."

Condolences came from across the country and beyond. Flags in Vancouver flew at half-mast.

"Jack Poole was a great leader and a great man," said Squamish Chief Bill Williams,

"We will always cherish the great relationship and friendship we had with Jack. We worked together towards a common Olympic goal: unprecedented Aboriginal participation in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. In fact, without his vision and support we would not likely be in the position we are today."

Poole was of Métis origin and his commitment to Aboriginal participation won him praise from many.

Poole and his wife Darlene played very active roles in the community, providing philanthropic support for many B.C. health and charity institutions.

In addition to receiving the Order of British Columbia, The Order of Canada, and the Queen's Jubilee Medal, Poole's recent awards include Canada's Sport Executive of the Year; Tourism Leader of the Year; Vancouver Junior Board of Trade Community Service Leader and Jack Diamond Sports Personality of the Year. He was also recognized with Simon Fraser University's Distinguished Community Leader Award and the Consumer Choice Business Man of the Year Award, and was inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame as the W.A.C. Bennett Award winner.

Poole has five children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

He was also a success in business. His first company, Daon Development, grew into the second-largest real estate investment firm on the continent. In 1989 he started Concert Properties, which is one of the most prominent development companies in the province.

In 2001 he was asked to run the committee preparing Vancouver's bid to host the 2010 Games. And in 2003, after the successful bid, he was chosen to chair the 20-member VANOC.