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Annual golf tournament honours memory of community leader

A golf tournament held each year in honour of Dave Matthews Sr. has been keeping the legacy of this dedicated community leader alive and well in Wood Buffalo.

Dave was known as a mentor and friend to many in the Wood Buffalo community, having been employed at Syncrude Canada Ltd. for over 32 years in various leadership roles. One such person was Michelle Velez, Senior Tailings Advisor in Strategic Planning at Syncrude.

“I worked closely with Dave for several years. He taught me a lot and became a great mentor for my career as well as a great friend,” says Michelle.

Dave and his wife Diana called this region home since moving to Fort McMurray in 1975 and raised their three children in the community. Dave was a passionate volunteer, lending his time and skills to several community causes including being on the board of the Fort McMurray Exhibition Society, the Oil Barons Junior A Hockey Team and the Fort McMurray Golf Club.

“He was a life member of the Kinsmen Club which provides a forum for individuals to develop leadership skills and apply them within the community,” says Michelle.

In 2002, Dave began organizing annual golf tournament in the Tailings department of Syncrude.

“At that time, it was really about getting together as a team and having fun,” she says.

“When Dave passed away five years ago, Gary Bourque, Pat Hurley and I decided to continue the golf tournament in his memory. It then not only became a way to reconnect with old friends but to connect with everyone Dave knew throughout the community,” she says. “Each year more and more people get involved to share Dave’s story. It’s truly remarkable.”

The golf tournament also became an opportunity to give back to the community Dave loved.

“One of Dave’s friends, Jos Clement, worked alongside Dave through CEDA International. CEDA has always been very supportive of the golf tournament and when Dave passed, Jos saw the opportunity for them to make a large donation annually in his memory.”

Dave’s wife Diana decided that CEDA’s donations would go to the Northern Lights Health Foundation as a way of giving back for the excellent care her husband received at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre towards the end of his life.

CEDA’s generosity has made a lasting impact on various areas of health care in our community. Most recently, their gift benefited the Community Cancer Clinic at the Health Centre.
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Dave, his wife Diana and their friends Michelle and Jairo. 

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