By Martin Cleary
Sadly, there will be no “birthday” celebration on Dec. 20 for well-respected and former St. Pius X High School teacher/coach Ted Larose. No cake. No Golden Palace egg rolls. But there will be time to remember.
Larose, the head coach of the powerhouse X-Men football dynasty which won 9 Carleton board/city titles over 3 decades, passed away Nov. 28. A Catholic funeral mass was held on Saturday. He fought different types of cancer for almost two decades.
An energetic, caring and battling soul, Larose was born March 18, 1946. So why would he celebrate a “birthday” Dec. 20? On that day in 2017, Hodgkin Lymphoma had a stranglehold on him. He was taken to the Ottawa Hospital by ambulance and died.
But Larose’s fighting spirit combined with the talents of his medical team brought him back to life. Chemotherapy followed to allow him to continue the good fight. For the past two years, his children celebrated their dad’s re-birth day on Dec. 20.
“We were hoping to do it in 2020,” said Larose’s son Ryan. “We got 35 extra months. Of the 35, five were tough. But we got 30 extra months.”
Ryan added his father earned that extra time because of his fortitude and desire to keep living.
“Dad was stubborn in the most positive way. That speaks to the power of the decisions he made. He chose to live and to do things best to live,” he added.
Larose, who had prostate cancer in the 2000 decade, devised his own strict plan.
For Larose to keep moving forward and feel as good as possible, he followed the doctors’ orders – eat well and exercise – plus he did a little more than that in each area. He asked his daughter Krista to develop a Crossfit program for him.
He printed off his program of nine exercises, glued them to a piece of cardboard and religiously did his free weights, bench presses and mountain climbing movements. Walking in his neighbourhood was also part of his live-longer routine.
While taking care of himself during his final three up-and-down years, he didn’t forget the many people in his life. He went to every Little League baseball game and soccer match for his respective grandchildren Grayden and Della.
As he progressed through his eight chemotherapy sessions, he asked Ryan to buy 14 tickets for the St. Pius X 60th anniversary spaghetti dinner. Although long retired, his commitment to his teaching community got him to the dinner with 13 friends.
During those 2018 chemotherapy days, which Ryan described as “really dark and dangerous,” Larose had a heart attack, but didn’t realize it and even questioned the doctors about it. This news made its way back to the St. Pius X teaching staff.
Even though Larose had been retired from the school for 17 years, the current staff raised $1,000 for him. Ryan told his dad about the collection and Larose became angry. But he reflected for a moment and came up with a plan.
He asked Ryan when the school exam period was beginning. He instructed Ryan to use the money to buy lunch for all the teachers and to use the rest to help someone pay a bill.
“That’s dad. Community spirit and servanthood,” Ryan said. “He willingly chose to live as long as he could. We called it overtime.
“He said ‘I want to play every card God gives me. I’ll fight until I have no cards.'”
Playing with fewer cards, Larose was moved to Elisabeth Bruyère Hospital.
Doctors knew Larose’s time was coming, but they continued to try to extend his life. Two days before Larose passed, Ryan was walking Bruyère’s hallways and saw bed after bed filled with patients. But there was one vacancy.
The room that was open was the same room where his mother and Larose’s wife Carol had occupied at the time of her death from cancer in 2014. Ryan spoke to a hospital official and asked if Larose could be moved into that room.
He thought the answer would be no, but within an hour Larose was wheeled into the same room where his wife of 46 years was in 2014.
“It was so fitting,” Ryan said. “A servant got to go in peace.”
Less than two days later, Larose passed. The St. Pius X alumni community responded with wave after wave of notes of remembrance about Larose on social media. They had lost a key player, who respected everyone and was there to help everyone.
But there was that one day, when Larose couldn’t make it to the 1975 Carleton Board of Education senior football final against Sir Robert Borden. But he had a good note from home. He was serving in another way … on jury duty.
The Larose estate has created an annual $500 award called the Teddy Larose Bursary for a student who overcame challenges on the path to graduation. A GoFundMe campaign has added more than $11,000 to the bursary fund.
“He ran marathons. This was a different marathon. He knew he had to train for this marathon,” Ryan said. “It was amazing to watch. It was something he chose to fight. It was hard. If he didn’t choose to fight, it would have been an easier road.”
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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