Brandon University president Deborah Poff, left, and Karen DeYoung, wife of the late Henry Champ, unveil a portrait of the former chancellor in the newly named Henry Champ Gymnasium on Thursday afternoon. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Brandon University president Debora Poff, left, and Karen DeYoung, wife of the late Henry Champ, unveil a portrait at the entrance to the Henry Champ Gymnasium on Thursday. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
With his name enshrined on the wall of the Brandon University gym, former chancellor Henry Champ’s contributions to the school will always be remembered.
Yesterday, the university dedicated the gym and renamed it after the late Champ, who played a role in fostering BU’s successful basketball program and enhancing the university’s educational reputation.
His distinguished print and broadcast journalism career started as a sports reporter at the Brandon Sun and he spent a considerable amount of time in the BU gym during the infancy of his career.
"It is in this gym he spent many hours watching our athletes practise and compete," said BU president Deborah Poff, to a group of around 60 people inside the newly named gym.
"From his home in Washington, he stayed connected and kept up with our teams’ progress, regularily watching games online."
His wife Karen DeYoung gave a brief, but emotional speech during the afternoon ceremony, sharing with the audience her memories of living with the well-travelled man.
As chancellor, he had a chance to reconnect with his roots in the Wheat City after his journalism career sent him around the globe placing him on the sidelines of history in such places as Vietnam, the United States and Europe.
"He loved Brandon where he was raised and he loved Brandon University," DeYoung said. "Being a chancellor here was one of the greatest joys and honours of Henry’s life.
"It gave him a chance to learn about academics and administration, to work with young people, to use his contacts and knowledge of how things worked on the federal, provincial and human level to help the university," DeYoung said. "And let’s face it, it was all about basketball."
Sports in Brandon was always something close to Champ’s heart, DeYoung said. Not only did he play on the BU courts himself during his time at Brandon College in 1957 and 1958, he covered the teams as a local sports scribe.
His love of basketball translated into his efforts to recruit top players from inner-city schools in the United States for the university’s team, spending many weekends travelling around Washington.
"His idea was to bring in tall young people with hoops skills, good grades, and more ambition than money," DeYoung said.
"As he did with everything in his life, he dove into the chancellorship with great gusto, he was energized, and enlightened by every trip he made here," she said. "He even liked those long boring Saturday morning board meetings."
The gym has been part of BU since 1965, but underwent a major reconstruction which was part of the school’s Healthy Living Centre development.
Champ died in September at the age of 75 at his farm in Washington — still reporting the news as a blogger for CBC.
He became an American citizen two weeks before he died.
"But if he were here, he would tell you he wasn’t an American," DeYoung said. "Henry was a Canadian to his core."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 3, 2013