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Ottawa loses sports equipment repair guru Bob Kelly

5 8 30

After a pickup hockey game Wednesday night, someone handed Kevin Belsher a Labatt Blue.

Bob Kelly’s favourite brand got Kevin thinking of his mentor, the founder of BK Sports Repair on Belfast Road. Just hours later, he received the call he was dreading, from Bob’s wife, Norean. Kelly had passed away during the night, following a spell of poor health, mostly stemming from lung deterioration. Kelly, 76, was one of Ottawa’s best-known smokers — sports equipment he repaired with such care usually came home smelling of cigarettes.

On Thursday, after BK’s repair specialist, Mathieu Groulx, left for a sleepness night, Belsher stayed behind to close up.

“I’m still at the shop, finding it hard to leave,” said Belsher, emailing a reporter about Kelly’s death earlier that day. “Fighting off tears knowing he won’t be coming back through the front door.”

On social media, word spread quickly. Generations of hockey and baseball families reminisced about this man from the shoe repair era who gave new life to old gear for more than 20 years. Long before that, Kelly was helping kids with hockey equipment at the Laurentian Trading Post and Lacroix Sports. He always found a way to make an expensive game affordable to all.

“Without Bob’s help and generosity, Shawn and myself could never have made the NHL, let alone get through minor........

© Ottawa Citizen