Tribute to Ralph Mahler

On Saturday, December 27, the NWTASSA was deeply saddened by the loss of Ralph Mahler, a long time volunteer and supporter of speed skating in the north.

Ralph started out as a speed skating dad, but like his wife, Kathie, quickly took on many volunteer roles as his three children Ryan (17), Rebecca (19) and Kirstin (21) made their way through club and territorial programs. As a lap counter, Ralph worked many local and territorial meets and then volunteered to be chief lap counter at the 2002 Arctic Winter Games in Iqaluit, delivering a training program to local officials who had never before officiated. Soon after this Ralph took on the role of starter, a position he has held for the NWTASSA ever since. Ralph served as starter in many local, territorial and Arctic Winter Games events and has assisted at the Edmonton Fall Classic. He soaked up training opportunities wherever he went, including the Canadian Age Class and Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse when he and Kathie traveled to see their children compete. His variety of starter hats delighted younger skaters as much as the professionalism and respect he showed toward older skaters.

At the club level, Ralph has acted Registrar for the Yellowknife Speed Skating club and as Treasurer for the past seven years. He also served many years on the club Race Committee and acted as the liaison with the City Recreation Department for ice allocation. Ralph brought many skills and attributes to every meeting he attended – clear thinking, thoughtful analysis, fair judgment, and humour just when it was needed. He will be most fondly remembered for his engineering feats, which benefited our club so much, particularly his ingenious contraption that moves heavy mat carts on and off the ice with ease, and his quickly assembled platform for officials that we use during competitions. None of us will ever forget Ralph trotting into the arena in his coveralls, toolbox in hand ready to fix something or address a new project.

As well as managing finances for so many years, he also contributed to fundraising, cheerfully and tirelessly bagging groceries, collecting recyclables and helping skaters deliver newsletters in all sorts of weather. Ralph was reliable, inventive, calm, dedicated and fun loving, traits his children have adopted and packed in their skate bags to bring to the rink each practice.

The NWTASSA extends heartfelt condolences to Kathie, Kirstin, Rebecca and Ryan.
Ralph’s skills, dedication and cheerful volunteer spirit will be sorely missed.

Pam Dunbar
President, NWTASSA
December 30, 2008