Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fishing Trips Tie Howe to His Sons, despite Illness around the Nhl

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fishing Trips Tie Howe to His Sons, despite Illness around the Nhl

Article excerpt

DETROIT -- The fishing trips always bring out that smile his sons love and cherish.

Gordie Howe never was one to sit around, and that hasn't changed even as dementia roils his health. He turned 86 on Monday, an event that will appropriately be celebrated in Detroit, because no city ever has celebrated Howe more. He reigned here as a local hockey folk hero for three decades, defining what it meant to be talented and tough.

Howe doesn't come to Detroit a whole lot any more, because he cannot be on his own. He has spent the past four months in Lubbock, Texas -- staying with his daughter, Cathy, and her husband, Bob -- escaping the harsh winter that would have impeded his physical activity. The man who six decades ago dominated opponents in hockey remains a man who doesn't like to be still.

Keeping Howe active can be as simple as buying a rake, but there's nothing better than getting him onto a body of water.

"We try to make it fun for dad, and that means fishing," Mark Howe said Sunday. Mark is a scout for the Red Wings, having played defense for them late in a career that led to a Hall of Fame induction in 2011, 39 years after his dad. Gordie Howe had three sons and a daughter with Colleen Howe, his wife of 55 years who passed away five years ago from Pick's disease, a neurological condition that causes dementia.

Howe's children have looked after him in shifts since Colleen's death. Marty, who also played in the NHL, does most of the professional planning, like a potential upcoming charity appearance in Calgary, Alberta. Murray, a radiologist in Toledo, is in charge of the medical care. Gordie spends summers with Mark, who lives halfway between Philadelphia and New York and has another home near the Jersey shore, making for easy access to the activity that has defined the Howes' lives as much as hockey.

"Dad used to take Marty and I fishing when we were kids," Mark said. "We'd go fishing in Michigan and southern Ontario. He took us on trips down to Ecuador and to Florida with friends. We'd go deep- sea fishing and fish for Arctic char in northern Canada, or for walleye or sea bass. We've done a lot of fishing together with Dad.

"Growing up in Saskatoon, Dad always used to tell us he'd run down to the river and get some wooden handmade lures, and he'd catch northern pike all day. He always loved and still loves fishing."

His sons -- Marty lives outside Hartford, Conn., and often in the summer will take Howe fishing on Long Island Sound -- have grown accustomed to what comes after a fishing trip with their dad. "I can take him out fishing for tuna on a beautiful night," Mark said, "and the next day he'll remember he went fishing, but not if he caught anything, or what boat he was on."

Like his siblings, Mark has a daily habit when he is hosting his dad. …

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