By Martin Cleary
As an active boy, James (Jamie) Marquardt loved the freedom of riding his skateboard and zipping along Fifth Avenue in Ottawa. The Glebe was his playground and focal point for growing up as a young man.
He was blessed with good friends and basketball buddies in his neighbourhood and at Mutchmor Public School, Glebe Collegiate Institute and Carleton University. They were the best times for Marquardt, who is being remembered as a gem of a person.
A kind, compassionate and generous individual with a great sense of humour, Marquardt passed away Jan. 31, after 18 years battling with a malignant melanoma of the eye. He was 47 and leaves his spouse Shelly and daughter Ila.
Family, social work and basketball were his life pillars. At Carleton University, he earned his bachelor’s degree in social work from 1992-96, while playing as a guard/small forward for the Ravens’ basketball team for his first three years.
His calm, friendly and caring nature along with a big smile served him well as he worked in Ottawa and Vancouver for the Canadian Mental Health Association, Roberts/Smart Centre and Children’s Aid Society. His colleagues truly appreciated him.
“I keep deeply in my heart the image of his skillful compassion, his generosity and that smile weighing between a bit of mischievousness and an ever-welcoming heart,” wrote Andrew Inkel in an online tribute.
“James’s amazing combination of (a) graceful and generous style, and deep and engaged substance made him truly unique and always a positive force for all around him,” Chad Gaffield wrote on the lengthy list of heartfelt messages.
Kim Lambert and Nora Ullyhot saw Marquardt as “a spirited little firecracker,” who “used to love to dance in the rain and was determined to live life to its fullest.” He certainly tried his best.
Physically strong and loving the outdoors, Marquardt walked the West Coast Trail, paddled rivers and lakes in Algonquin Park and revisited Tanzania in 2005 to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Growing up, he spent part of his childhood in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
His physical strength was particularly noticeable on the basketball court, while playing for the lowly Ontario East conference Ravens. Marquardt quite often was in the starting lineup with Taffe Charles, the current Ravens men’s head coach.
While the Ravens struggled during his three-year career, 10-26 in the conference and 22-61 overall, he worked hard, averaging 8.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in conference games. He was a noted shooter, hitting 39.5% from three-point range.
“He could shoot the ball well,” said Charles, who also liked Marquardt’s defensive play. “Back in the day, they didn’t shoot as many 3s as today. But he was one of the few who could really shoot 3s.”
When it came to basketball, he was not only a player, but also a coach and ‘an instructor.’ His friends knew he loved the game and they were right beside him to make every day the best day of hoops.
“I fondly remember our summer together between Grades 10 and 11, where our daily routine was going to the YM-YWCA, where we would workout in the dank, stinky weight room for three hours followed by another two hours of pick-up basketball upstairs in the gym,” Steve Bourke wrote.
“It was one of my favourite summers. So many of my memories with Jamie are of basketball. Jamie was by far the best shooter I have ever played with.”
The next summer, Marquardt and Jamie Mallon and two other friends travelled to Syracuse for a basketball camp.
“Jamie held his own; I was outclassed. I had so much fun with him at that camp and playing basketball at Glebe,” Mallon wrote.
Anne-Marie Scobie (formerly McAlpine) remembers Marquardt as the perfect coach for her Grade 10 basketball team.
“He was a positive role model and coach, who always pushed us to become better athletes. He was always a joy to be around.”
Then there was the day Marquardt wanted to show Carrie Walker-Boyd how to dribble a basketball.
“We had a few classes together and logged some time in the gym, when he insisted I ‘could’ learn to dribble,” she wrote. “He was wrong.”
Shane Delorme will have the final word: “Back in the early years at Glebe, hanging out with Jamie meant playing basketball. And basketball again. Jamie was a great guy, great ball player and truly one of the good guys.
“Way too young to leave this earth. I just hope he is hitting 3-pointers and everyone remembers all the good times with him.”
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 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 High Achievers “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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