Remembering Gus: Extraordinary Tennis Volunteer
On Sunday Dec 13, 2015 Gus Morhart passed away. He was at his winter home in Florida, probably working on his latest project, the Islamorada Tennis Club in Florida. Gus had bought this property wanting to provide young Canadian tennis players with a safe and affordable place to train in winter. He had already installed an OTA banner and was looking for an OTA flag to hoist above the property, such was his loyalty to the organization he had devoted much of his time and energy to for more than 25 years.
Gus was a doer, a builder, a practical person. He never wanted to be in the limelight, he just went about making a better world through tennis in his own modest and generous way. The ability to take an idea and turn it into reality made Gus such an exceptional and valuable individual. He never judged people, he never considered the shortcomings or argued about the constraints or potential problems, he just did what he saw could be done. For example, after an exploratory discussion about raising the profile and image of the Ontario Junior Closed Championships, Gus made improvements a reality by making single sticks and score cards for the courts and umpire chairs. He came at dawn to put up the banners on the courts, on finals days he brought the bouquets of flowers which were presented to all the girls with their trophies. It was Gus who provided the bowl of candies at the tournament desk, who built the large scoreboards, who organized the barbeque and who watched and supported every junior who played in the event.
Gus was also the transporter of players, both for the pros on the grounds at the Rogers Cup or for the kids around junior nationals. Whether it was a junior who needed picking up at the airport or Milos who needed to be taken to hospital, Gus would be there with his trusty dark green van covered with logos no matter what time of day or night. And then he would be there to support the juniors at the big events in Florida in December, Canada T shirts for every Canadian player, accommodation at his place in the Keys, fish from his freezer, he shared everything he had.
Gus was modest, kind and generous of spirit. He derived great pleasure from giving, particularly if the gift was appreciated. He wanted very little for himself. I remember when the OTA held a special lottery that it was Gus who was first to buy tickets. When he won a trip to Wimbledon in the lottery, he gave it to a junior so they could afford to go to play in the junior event and when they thanked him with a towel from Wimbledon, he gave that away as appreciation to a fellow volunteer.
Gus was officially recognized many times by the OTA (DSA and other awards) by Tennis Canada and by the Ontario Government (Syl Apps award). But I really think for him the best reward was a smile, a small favour, a helping hand, a hug and a willingness to help tennis.
It is the juniors who played at Kew and their parents who remember Gus most fondly. We are planning to include a collection of photos and memories of Gus in the OTA Year Book which will be published online in January. If you have a special photo or memory of Gus that you would like to contribute please send it to me, firstname.lastname@example.org or the OTA office email@example.com and we will try to include it in our collection.
As of today there are no details available for a celebration of Gus’s life, we hear that one will be held after the holidays and we will notify you as soon as we know the time and place.
Photo by Peter Figura.