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ICYMI: The Tributes to Torrington Legend Owen Canfield. Tony Turina and Ken Traub with their takes.

POSTED March 14, 2020
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

Tony Turina-Long time THS boys basketball coach

Back in 1964, I became acquainted with Owen Canfield while he was a sportswriter at the Torrington Register.  As an eighth grader playing in the Varsity Alumni Club basketball league, I had just received a basketball recognition that Owen was assigned to write a story about (my first interview).  I found him to be such a warm individual who was so easy to talk to.  The interview with me lasted all of two minutes as Owen proceeded to talk about all the great Torrington High athletes that proceeded me.  At that very moment, I fell in love with the history of THS athletics. Throughout the next 56 years, we have had numerous breakfast meetings and telephone calls discussing our mutual relationships with so many of the 'greats' in Torrington High School sports.  I, along with so many others, will certainly miss his wit, love and fascination about family, friends and sports.  A true GEM, one whom I've been fortunate to call a friend!

Jerry Traub-Close family friend

Kevin Canfield, Mr. Canfield’s second out of four sons, is my best friend.  We met in the third grade at Saint Francis School in Torrington.  We remain best friends to this day (after about 50 years) and no reason why we won’t remain best friends for the rest of our lives.  Throughout this friendship, a few things come to mind about Mr. Canfield.

One would be discipline.  In our younger years at St. Francis, I can remember attending Mass at the Church on Sunday mornings with members of my family and seeing the entire Canfield family lined up in a pew, they were closer to the front of the church than we were. I had a great view, they were usually on the right-hand side, Mr. & Mrs. C. were closest to the isle and the 10 kids to the right of them.  I remember at times one or the other would get a bit out of line, usually by way of a chuckle or light laughter, I would think to myself “this ought to be good” and sure enough it was, Mr. C. would somehow get to the culprit for a quick stern reprimand even if he or she was at the end of the line several feet away.  I was always thoroughly impressed by his quick, agile and decisive action keeping the kids in line, I don’t think the kids felt the same way. 

Another would be Christmas time.  Mr. Canfield and I shared the same feelings about Christmas.  It is a time to decorate the house, put up the Christmas tree, put up outside lights, have fun and celebrate.  I can remember going to the Canfield estate on Woodbine Street shortly after Christmas.  It would be the one place that had more toys, wrappings, boxes, kids (double actually) and Christmas stuff around the house than ours had. Usually, on a typical visit, there would be an encounter with the Christmas tree, and by that, I mean not a good one.  In fact, if it stayed up and didn’t fall over, it was a miracle.  If you love Christmas and want a few laughs, I suggest you read “Thanks Santa, but who’s going to put it together?” by none other than Owen Canfield. 

Not too long ago, I asked Mr. C what his favorite interview was, he didn’t hesitate and said it was the one with Muhammad Ali at Camp Delaware in Winsted, when he was a young reporter.  Ali, in his prime, was at the Camp for some reason (I think helping out some kids there), Mr. Canfield got wind of it and as it turned out, he was the only reporter to show up.  He spent the entire day with Ali, following him around, asking questions, writing things down and at one point having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with him.  World Champions – both of them. 

Lastly would be the importance of Mrs. Canfield (Ethel), family, humor, laughter and Torrington as a whole.  I always admired the bond between Mr. & Mrs. Canfield even after she passed some 32 years ago.  The bond was tight, had to be with 10 children, but there was never a bad word towards each other, none that I remember anyway.  After she passed, not a conversation between us would go by without Ethel mentioned.  Family; loved every one of them, kept in touch with every one of them, would help any one of them, was a friend and a great dad to every one of them.  Humor & laughter; always plenty to go around even when the future didn’t look so bright.  Torrington; raised here, raised a family of 10 here, worked for the Register here, worked for the Hartford Courant a bit, came back to work for the Register here, lived here and passed away here.  Mr. Canfield loved Torrington.

Fortunately for us, he passed along many of his traits to all his kids, whom I see every now and then.  Yea, Mr. Canfield maybe gone, but in no way will be forgotten. 

Thank you Mr. (& Mrs.) Canfield for everything you have given us, especially for my best friend Kevin.

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