Many may not have known Allen Rae personally, but he was a big part of this community even as a non-resident.
Allen (Al) served as the President of the Dr. James Naismith Basketball Foundation for over 10 years, and was one of its founding members in 1989. The Foundation, based right here in Almonte, has been the driving force in keeping James Naismith’s legacy alive, not only in our community, but worldwide. Rae was introduced to Naismith’s story through the sport of basketball, a sport in which he would succeed as an Olympic level referee. After retiring as an official, his move to the Ottawa area prompted Rae to seek out where the roots of the game began, in the humble town of Almonte.
Rae had a passion for the sport of basketball. He is one of 3 Canadians ever to be inducted into the International Basketball Hall of Fame (FIBA) – one being James Naismith himself. He was touted as bringing the utmost of professionalism to the game, both on and off the court. Rae concurrently served with the RCMP from 1952 until 1972 where his personality and professionalism led him to be highly regarded by his peers and was considered a unique RCMP ambassador.
Al Rae’s impact on the Canadian sport community was legendary. After leaving the RCMP, he went on to work for Sport Canada and then shifted his focus back to basketball as the Executive Director of Canada Basketball. He always remained dedicated to his role as a referee, so much so that he founded a non-profit organization (Sports Officials Canada) dedicated to promoting excellence in sports officiating and acting as a collective voice for Canadian officials in every sport. These are only a few of Al’s accomplishments, but if he were still here, he’d ask me to stop bragging.
Allen remained humble in his journey. He also remained dedicated to his passion of the sport of basketball fighting to continue to stay involved with the Almonte based Dr. James Naismith Basketball Foundation even while dealing with his ailing health.
Al’s most lasting impression on all of us was his ability to make us smile. He always had a joke or quipy one-liner ready to lighten the mood, or, in the absence of a joke, all he needed to do was flash that boyish grin of his with that twinkle in his eye and it always seemed to do the trick.
We thank you, Al, for your dedication, your friendship and the spirit you always brought to the table, to the court and shared with all of us.
Board members of the Dr. James Naismith Basketball Foundation
*A funeral service will be held in the Sacred Space of the Beechwood National Cemetery, 280 Beechwood Avenue, Ottawa (East of the Vanier Parkway) on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 11 a.m. followed by a reception. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Allen’s memory to the Ottawa Hospital Foundation would be appreciated.
Photo courtesy of FIBA