Would you find a kinder person in life than Carmen Biafore?
Carmen recently left us at the age of 69 after spending many years here in Cranbrook working with the City as an assistant administrator.
Carmen and his wife Judy were originally from Blairmore, Alta., in the Crowsnest Pass. Being Italian, he was the quintessential family man and quite skilled when it came to the game of bocce. His Blairmore Bocce outfit won the Sam Steele Days bocce tournament on more than one occasion.
Son Chad went a long way within the game of hockey, suiting up in 72 games with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks (14-66-80) during the 1988-89 season before moving on to play minor pro in North America and eventually in various Italian and European professional leagues. He also played four games for the Italian national team at the world championships (1997 and 1998) as well as at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics.
Carmen himself played high-end commercial hockey in the Crowsnest Pass, mentioned to me on more than a few occasions that son Chad got his “hockey genes” from his father. Ahh…okay, Carm.
Young Chad’s last stop in professional hockey was his most rewarding, as he met wife Carolin in Berlin while playing in the Deutsch Eishockey Liga (1996-97 to 1998-99). The couple now have twin boys who are also very involved in hockey and golf in Kelowna, where Carolin is a superb hairdresser.
Carmen thought the world of Carolin, and vice-versa.
He moved from Cranbrook to Kelowna with Judy in the early 2000s in order to start an engineering consulting business.
Daughter Carly lives in Toronto, where she has a career with West Jet.
Carmen and Judy’s daughter, Shonalie, resides in Calgary. Recently, the Biafore family experienced heartache and tragedy when Shonalie’s daughter Jayce passed away at the age of 20 due to an aggressive form of cancer. Jayce had just been accepted into nursing school with aspirations of becoming a medical surgeon before her dreams and life were sadly cut short.
This was a devastating ordeal for the tight-knit Biafores.
To end Carm’s story on a positive note… He had his “extended family” of horse-racing aficionados here in Cranbrook, including the late Jessie Pinchak and Alex McLaughlin. Both have passed on, but were regulars at the Byng Hotel, getting “sure winners” from Carmen.
This was Carm’s after work “relaxing time,” spent with Joyce, Cheryl, George, Eddie, Scoobie Doo, Big Fred, Big Art, Spiker, Wally C., Gordie, Ray Martyniuk, Marvin and Mark, and Dolly.
Now, any grey horse was a “sure winner” and this sacred knowledge was passed along from Ray Burlingham to Mr. Biafore, who then passed the “hot horses” on to his horse buddies.
As luck has it, those hot horses even won from time to time.
Carmen truly loved horse racing, as does his son, Chad.
Kimberley native Scott Beattie, currently coaching the top division of Swiss pro hockey, reminded me the other day that Carmen spoke somewhat like John Wayne, with that sly, slow and deliberate drawl. So accurate.
Scott played professionally with Chad overseas in Europe.
Carmen Biafore was just an absolute gem of a person. If you did not meet him on life’s great path, you missed meeting an exceptional fellow.
The last time I saw Carmen was in Kelowna two years ago. We went for a catch-up lunch. Driving back to Cranbrook, I discovered an envelope on the passenger seat of my car. Carmen had slipped it through my window with $20 inside and a note.
“Have a good meal at Collanders on your way home.”
That was precisely the kind of man Carmen Biafore was. He always looked out for his friends.
Even after Carmen moved to Kelowna, he was always back to Cranbrook to see family (including his NFL pool buddy, Neil).
Walking through the rec-plex at Western Financial Place last week, I spotted Carmen’s smiling face in the Hall of Fame Section, under director.
Carmen’s mom Helen and his sister Linda still reside right here in Cranbrook, along with his brother-in-law, Jack Hummell.
Father Louis Biafore passed away some years ago.
Carmen Biafore… you would not meet a finer person in life.