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Updated: November 19, 2018
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
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Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2018 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photo courtesy of the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame)


...Bob Van Impe...
(1922 - 2018)
(© Photo: Saskatchewan
Sports Hall of Fame)
Canadian softball-pioneer Bob Van Impe passed away

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (Canada) - Wellknown Canadian softball-pioneer Bob Van Impe has passed away on Friday, November 16, at age 96. The memorial and funeral service will be held on Wednesday, November 21. Bob Van Impe was a longtime contributor to the development of softball. Not only in his home-city Saskatoon, but also throughout Canada and worldwide.

Robert Van Impe was born on January 13, 1922 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. His parents John and Celestine Van Impe and his older brother Frank immigrated to Canada from Belgium in the early 1900's.

Van Impe's first involvement with softball came during World War II when he played the sport while serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Thereafter, he more and more became an administrator and went on to form the Baldwin Hotel-team, which played in the Saskatoon Amateur Softball League. In 1965, Van Impe became the first commissioner of the Saskatoon Senior Men’s Softball League and the following year, he was also named commissioner of the Saskatchewan Amateur Softball Association. Through the years, he served in many different committees.

Van Impe's administrative qualities, his leadership, as well as his working with many volunteers didn't went unnoticed. In 1969, Van Impe was elected as President of the Canadian Amateur Softball Association and he led the Canadian governing body through 1986. In these years, the number of players grew to over one million. He also oversaw the development of a national officiating program, which resulted in over 2500 umpires receiving training and guidance to improve their skills.

In 1971, Bob Van Impe was elected as Vice-President for North America in the Board of the former International Softball Federation (ISF). Two years later, he became the 1st Vice-President of the ISF and also was named to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Olympic Association. Van Impe was the 1st Vice-President of the ISF through 1987 and then was again elected ISF Vice-President for North American again.

Van Impe retired in 1987 after a long career as a brewer for Labatts, which has been a longtime sponsor of softball and baseball in Canada. After his retirement from Labatts and Softbal Canada remained involved in the Saskatoon-community and played golf and curling until in his nineties. He frequently remained a visitor and special guest of (international) softball-events that were organized in Canada.

In his long career, Bob Van Impe received several honors and awards, including being named Kinsmen Sportsman of the Year in Saskatoon in 1979 and winning the Air Canada Sports Award in 1981 as Executive of the Year.

In 1984, a softball-field in Saskatoon was named in his honor. The Bob Van Impe Stadium is located in the Gordie Howe Sports Complex. This Complex is named after Canadian professional ice hockey-legend Gordie Howe, who passed away in 2016 at age 88.

Bob Van Impe was inducted into three Halls of Fame. In 1986, he was inducted into the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame, in 1987 in the ISF Hall of Fame and in 1990 into the Softball Canada’s Hall of Fame.

Earlier this year, the Netherlands had to say goodbye to two members of the ISF Hall of Fame, former coach Nol Houtkamp passed away on February 22 at age 89 and administrator Theo Vleeshhouwer on March 2 at age 87.

(November 19)

Related Articles:
Iconic softball-coach Nol Houtkamp passed away. (February 22)
Longtime administrator Theo Vleeshhouwer passed away. (March 4)

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