Welcome to AMMSA.COM, the news archive website for our family of Indigenous news publications.

Gaylord Powless and his legendary life


Sam Laskaris, Windspeaker Contributor, Ohsweken, Ontario







Page 22

Canada's sporting community lost one of its greatest athletes in late July.

Gaylord Powless, a name associated with lacrosse excellence even years after his playing days concluded, died on July 28. He was 54.

Powless was diagnosed with colon cancer three years ago, but he continued to live an active life until this past spring when he was weakened as the cancer had spread to his lungs.

Though he was bed-ridden in the days leading up to his death, Powless received some news that cheered him up. His local rink, which was previously called the Six Nations Memorial Cultural Centre, was renamed the Gaylord Powless Sports Arena.

"He was pretty happy about that," said Powless' only son, 20-year-old Chris.

Powless is also survived by his wife Patti and their two daughters, Michelle, 32, and Gaylene, 17.

Dave General, a Six Nations band councillor, said renaming the local rink after Powless was a unanimous decision. Powless' family members attended the council meeting that July night.

"It was a pretty emotional evening," General said.

But it was a fitting tribute for one of Ohsweken's most famous individuals.

Powless was a star in both the junior and professional ranks.

Among the lengthy list of his accomplishments was the four consecutive Canadian Junior A Minto Cup championships from 1964 through 1967 for the Oshawa Green Gaels. Twice Powless was selected as the most valuble player at the Minto Cup.

"I think he really enjoyed his junior years the most," Chris Powless said of his father. "He was really glad that he played for the late

Mr. Jim Bishop (considered one of greatest lacrosse coaches ever) and the tight-knit group that they had there."

Powless went on to suit up for squads in various pro and amateur senior leagues. He had stints in places including Montreal, Detroit, Syracuse, Rochester, Portland, Brantford, Brampton and Coquitlam, B.C.

Chris Powless is following in his father's footsteps. For the past three years he was a member of the Six Nations Arrows, a Junior A club. Gaylord Powless had served as an assistant coach for the Arrows during the 2000 season, the last team with which he was involved.

Gaylord Powless was the oldest son of Ross Powless, another Canadian lacrosse great. Both are members of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame and are the only father-son tandem to be inducted in the hall in the players category.

Ross Powless, 74, still lives in Ohsweken.

Vic Generaux, one of Gaylord Powless' closest friends, said the fact Ross Powless was a lacrosse star contributed to his son's success.

"He grew up around it," said Generaux, who met Gaylord Powless at age 15. "Just hanging around his dad and being in that [lacrosse] atmosphere really helped him. And I think he was pushed into it a bit. After that, his natural ability just took over."

While many people will remember Powless for what he did on the lacrosse floor, Generaux said he'll have other memories.

"His sense of humor," Generaux said. "He was fun to be around. His wife and my wife were also good friends and we'd do the cottage thing together."

Generaux said Powless was also an avid outdoorsman, who loved fishing and hunting. And he also had a special knack with youngsters.

"He was just awesome with kids," Generaux said. "Kids that were around eight, 10 and 12 years old, they just loved to be around him and he was so good with them."

Chris Powless, who began playing lacrosse at age three, said he's rather proud of his background. And in no way is he trying to equal any of his father's or grandfather's legendary feats.

"I don't even attempt to live up to it," he said. "It's impossible."

Though he had other interests Gaylord Powless will be remembered most for what he did for lacrosse.

"It was everything to him," Chris Powless said. "He lived and breathed it."

As for being the greatest lacrosse player to come out of Six Nations, well, that's still being debated.

"He's got his dad to go up against," General said. "They were bot just outstanding players. Those are careers you point out to guys and say that is what lacrosse is all about."