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Legionnaires remember Robert “Big Bob” Williamson

The Sarnia Legionnaires were in action Thursday night, hosting the Chatham Maroons. While the 7-2 loss may be one the team and fans may want to forget, certainly the man they paid tribute to, pre-game, surely will not be forgotten. 

It was with sadness the Legionnaires announced the passing of life long executive member and former GM and part owner, Bob Williamson last Monday. Williamson’s passing was one felt around the league, as condolences came in across social media from all over. 

After celebrating the mothers of the Legionnaires players, team vice president and treasurer Theo Bet gave a heartfelt tribute to the late Williamson. 

Williamson dedicated his life for 55 years to sports in Sarnia, and was a big personality around the rink. 

“You miss that big personality,” said Bet. “Bob loved to talk and he loved to talk hockey. He had a great memory, he had stories to tell I couldn’t even remember. This man was on his game all the time for sure.”

Williamson spent a great deal of time volunteering in youth sports and was a big part of junior hockey in the area. 

Williamson began coaching in 1970, coaching football and lacrosse.

“We have one of our directors actually at our last meeting that said Bob was his first football coach,” Bet told The Journal. 

“I remember him taking some juvenile AAA teams to the all-Ontario finals, the time that that man put in was unbelievable.”

Williamson was involved in coaching and managing teams in the township and Sarnia Minor Hockey Associations for 22 years. In the early 80’s Williamson took his Juvenile teams to the North American Silver Stick Finals as well the All-Ontario finals. 

Williamson loved all sports really, also coaching and managing fastball teams 

He managed the 1987 Sarnia Sanivan intermediate AA team to a provincial title and a spot in the Sarnia-Lambton Sports Hall of Fame. He also coached and managed the Camlachie AA fastball team to the All Ontario finals in AA intermediate fastball. Williamson led teams to eight town and county championships, as well two Bluewater championships. 

Williamson was also a manager for the Petrolia Jets and Wallaceburg Lakers Junior C hockey teams and a convener for the Great Lakes Junior C league.

From 1997 to 2003, Williamson managed the Lakers to four North Division titles, reached the Great Lakes League finals three times, including one Great Lakes League championship and a Jr. C All-Ontario finalist. 

Williamson worked tirelessly, giving his time to the sports community and community at large, and was very well known and beloved. 

In 2008, Williamson was awarded the Bud Morrison award and inducted into the Sarnia Sports Hall Of Fame. The award recognizes a person who over a number of years has made significant contributions to the youth in their sport. 

It was in 2008 that Williamson, who was a manager and scouting director for the Sarnia Blast at the time, became part owner of the Jr. B club. 

“Him and his wife were one of the first people that took over control of the Sarnia Blast,” recalls Bet. “He had some phenomenal contacts in the league and was well known, and was instrumental in the success of this team.”

Williamson was also instrumental in bringing back the Legionnaires name, and paying homage to the original Legionnaires players like Pat Stapleton, Phil Espisito, and more. In the first season under the Legionnaires name, they won a Weir Cup. 

Williamson would step down from his role as GM in 2018 due to his health, but would remain on as a lifetime board member. 

He was a pillar of strength and guidance, always providing unwavering support and encouragement to his children in every aspect of their lives, read his obituary. 

"Bob had a heart of gold and a generosity that knew no bounds. He was always willing to lend a helping hand and give selflessly to those in need. His acts of kindness and thoughtfulness touched the lives of many, and his legacy of giving will continue to inspire others to make a difference in the world," the obituary continued. 

Indeed, Robert “Big Bob” Williamson made a huge impact on his community and will be missed. 

Visitation will be Monday, Feb. 19, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Smith Funeral Home, 1576 London Line. The funeral service will be Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 11 a.m.














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