He was a retired elementary school teacher and one of the founders of the Soo Water Tower Inn 35’s oldtimers hockey team. Good guy Branko Danicich passed away suddenly on Saturday at the age of 76.
Born and raised in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Branko moved to Sault Ste. Marie in the early 1960s, shortly after graduating from teacher’s college in North Bay.
He settled into the Soo and never moved away from his adopted home town.
Advancing to become a vice principal in the Catholic elementary school system, he was an educator for more than 30 years before retiring at age 55.
Playing hockey — and wearing his trademark no. 14 — was a favourite sideline of Branko’s.
Along with a group of friends — including his boyhood running mate from Kirkland Lake and fellow Sault Ste. Marie school teacher, Doug McCabe — they formed the Soo 35’s oldtimers team in the mid 1970s. They played weekly games of scrimmage locally and attended a number of out of town tournaments.
Having become a hockey “oldtimer” at age 35, Branko played the game he loved — with many of his lifelong buddies — for almost 40 more years before finally hanging up the skates a few years ago.
Few enjoyed life and loved to talk and laugh and have a few beers as much as Branko did.
With an ever-present smile on his face and a carefree, good natured way about him, Branko loved his daily routine of visiting the various grocery stores of Sault Ste. Marie, often stopping into two or three of them a day.
He was a tad on the frugal side — and proud of it. I like to say that Branko could go to three different grocery stories with $5 in his pocket and return home three hours later with $2 still in his jeans.
Oh my, he enjoyed walking the aisles of the grocery stores. He loved shopping for specials as much as he loved stopping and talking to people. Dare I say that if you bumped into Branko in a grocery store, you were in for a minimum 10-minute conversation — with him doing all of the talking.
He affectionately loved his wife, Donna, and their two boys, Stefan and Garth. He and Donna were also grandparents to Stefan’s two young kids with his wife, Trace.
I first met Branko when I was about 16 or 17 and I became quite fond of him. You see, this fun-loving, happy-go-lucky guy was my brother-in-law, married for so, so many years to my oldest sister, Donna.
Branko and Donna were married in March of 1970 and it is difficult trying to think about one not being with the other.
Besides his wife and their two boys and the rest of the family on so many sides, Branko leaves behind a legion of his friends including hockey chums and former teaching colleagues.
Rest in peace, my brother-in-law. Rest in peace, my favourite New York Rangers fan.