As a young four year-old Donald began skating at the Stratford Figure Skating Club and went on to become an exceptional athlete and claim a number of firsts in the history of figure skating. Competing at the senior level he claimed runner-up honors at the 1960, ’61 and ’62 Canadian Championships. In 1963 he became the first man to claim the Canadian, North American and World Senior Men’s titles all in one year without having won any of them previously. Donald was the first man in world championships to jump from fourth to first place and, having just turned 18 years of age, the youngest man ever to win the world title. Retiring from amateur competition in 1963 and overcoming enormous physical hardships, he went on to star with “Holiday on Ice” in Europe for 10 years. In 1965, he won the Men’s World Professional Championships.
Mary Rose Thacker
Learning to skate at the age of three at the Winnipeg Winter Club in 1925, this skater’s career spanned seven decades and she always remained proud of her Prairie roots. In 1939 at the age of 16, in her first year at the senior level, Mary Rose claimed the Canadian and North American Ladies titles and was named Canada’s Athlete of the Year; accomplishments she repeated in 1941. Named to the 1940 Olympic Team, she was denied the opportunity to compete at the world level due to the outbreak of World War II. Following her third Canadian title in 1942 she retired from amateur competition and turned her talents to coaching. In 1947 she opened the first summer skating school in British Columbia and for the next 35 years passed along her talents to thousands of young skaters and coaches.
This unique figure skating personality’s involvement in the sport has endured 60 years and seen success as a skater and coach. Starting in the 1930s at the Toronto Skating Club, Osborne advanced to become a two-time Canadian Senior Men’s champion before going on to star with the Ice Follies in 1937. He turned to coaching in 1946 and taught at clubs in Washington, Cleveland and Toronto and at summer schools in Barrie and Simcoe. In 1960 he formed the Banff School of Fine Arts Summer Skating School which for 10 years provided the unique blend of dance, theatre and skating and the innovation of team coaching. Over the years thousands of skaters have benefited from his innovative and artistic teaching style including national champions Don Laws and Karen Preston and choreographer Sara Kawahara.
This outstanding builder truly dedicated herself to ensuring excellence in all aspects of figure skating in Newfoundland and Canada, starting with the founding of the Flying Blades Figure Skating Club in 1965. Elizabeth introduced the sport to thousands of young athletes by organizing her province’s first championships, promoting the growth of local clubs and providing many training opportunities. She became the first gold dance and figure judge in her province and conducted numerous judging clinics. Chairman of the national committee for the formation of precision skating, she was instrumental in its introduction to Canada. She was affectionately known as “Mrs. Figure Skating”. Her untimely death in 1985, while travelling home from judging a provincial championships, was a great loss to the skating world.
For close to 60 years this figure skating devotee to the sport demonstrated commitment and dedication as an official, builder and athlete. A founding member of the Kitchener-Waterloo Club in 1938, she went on to assist in the establishment of a number of clubs in Brantford, Preston, Hamilton and Burlington. A gold medal judge, she served at Sectional, National and North American competitions and was instrumental in the training of judges at the Sectional level while serving as a Section referee and accountant. She devoted thousands of hours evaluating all levels of skating in singles, pairs and dance. With her groundwork in precision skating in the 1980s, she became one of Canada’s first qualified senior precision judges. In 1983 and 1984 she received awards from the CFSA, the Province of Ontario and the Western Ontario Section for her outstanding volunteer contributions to figure skating.