February 7, 2011

CFL mourns the loss of Bobby Kuntz


WATERLOO, Ont. — Bobby Kuntz, a versatile former running back for the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats, has died. He was 79.

The former player’s family announced that he passed away Monday at Columbia Forest Long Term Care Centre in Waterloo, Ont., due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Kuntz played 11 seasons in the CFL, winning Grey Cups with Hamilton in 1963 and 1965.

“Bobby was a great Canadian player whose achievements paved the way for all those that came after him,” Argonauts President and CEO Bob Nicholson said in a statement. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the Kuntz family during this difficult time. His contributions to the Toronto Argonauts will be forever remembered.”

A native of Detroit, Kuntz grew up in Cleveland before moving to Kitchener, Ont., where his father Oscar Kuntz founded Kuntz Electroplating Inc. He attended McMaster University before he joined the Argonauts in 1956.

As was common in those days, he played on both the offence and the defence as a running back and defensive back, as well as linebacker.

His daughter Liz Kuntz said her father had many stories from his playing days, but was never one to boast about his football career.

“He was a humble man,” she said. “He never talked about his own accomplishments. He preferred to deflect the glory onto others.”

After his brother David died in 1961, Kuntz retired from the Argonauts to help out in the family business. But he was soon coaxed out of retirement by former Ticats coach Jim Trimble, asking the Argos for a trade so he could play closer to home and for a winning team.

He went to four straight Grey Cup games with Hamilton, winning twice. He rushed 16 times for 49 yards and a touchdown in the infamous Fog Bowl of 1962 when the Grey Cup game in Toronto was played over two days, with Winnipeg finally beating Hamilton 28-27.

He was a CFL all-star at linebacker in 1964.

After retiring a second time, he went back to the family firm, eventually taking over as CEO of the company that manufactures steel and aluminum components.

Liz Kuntz said he kept in touch with a number of former teammates, particularly ex-Argo Norm Stoneburg and former Ticat Angelo Mosca. He was also deeply involved in charitable causes in his community and was given a lifetime achievement award in 2003 by Shamrock Charities.

“Pound for pound he was the toughest and best football player out there when I played,” Stoneburg said in a release sent by the Argonauts. “There wasn’t anyone he played against, or with, that wouldn’t say that. He dwarfed everybody out there. He was fearless and if you didn’t give it your all on every play then he would let you know. We will all miss him.”

He is survived by his wife of more than 50 years Mary as well as five of his six children and 12 grandchildren, four sisters and a brother.