It is with heavy hearts that the BCHL sends news of the passing of longtime Vernon Vipers owner and governor Duncan Wray. He was 68.
“We were shocked and saddened to receive word today about Duncan,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale. “He was the lifeblood of the Vipers franchise for a very long time and he leaves a huge void in our league and in our hearts.”
Wray became the Vipers’ owner in 1992 with this year marking his quarter-century season with the franchise. Under his watch, the Vipers were four-time national Junior A champions, including back-to-back in 2009 and 2010. In addition, the Vipers claimed six Fred Page Cup BCHL titles and five Doyle Cup wins over the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
On Saturday, he was among the many honourees at the Vipers’ game against Prince George, a Vernon celebration of the city’s Civic Arena and its 80th anniversary.
The Wray family released today the following statement:
“Duncan was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend to those that knew him. His loss leaves a huge hole in our hearts and he will be greatly missed.
“The unexpected news has come as a devastating blow and although the family is grateful for all the kind messages of sympathy, we ask that we can be left to grieve in private at this very difficult and sad time for us.”
In 2011, Wray was inducted into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame and last July, the 1999 RBC Cup-winning Vipers team was inducted as well. Wray was also recognized in 2011 with a Freedom of the City award from the City of Vernon.
Several Vipers alumni went on to NHL careers during Wray’s tenure including Mike Santorelli, Andrew Hammond, Aaron Volpatti, Tyson Strachan and Rod Pelley and soon-to-be Canadian Olympian Chay Genoway. Countless others went on to successful collegiate and professional careers in hockey.
Professionally, Wray was an accomplished and well-respected oral surgeon. On more than one occasion, he was pressed into service performing dental repairs on his own players.
Wray’s service to the BCHL was unmatched and he was chairman of the league’s board of directors right up to the time of his passing. He also served as chairman from 1999 to 2006 before resuming the role in 2011.
Each BCHL team will hold a moment of silence in his honour prior to their next home game.