Three people who made an impact/Paul Peterson
They were three people who came from different towns and traveled in different sports circles.
But the late Jim Markham of Houghton, Eleanor Helakoski of White Pine and Lloyd Short of Lake Linden made a difference during their lifetimes.
In every successful sports program, you must have people who organize behind the scenes and this trio – all whom passed earlier this month – certainly accomplished that.
Markham was a long-time Copper Country Junior Hockey official and also served on the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association along with Bob Erkkila of Calumet.
“Jim Markham had a very deep interest and passion for hockey,” Erkkila said. “He really cared about the youngsters in the local programs.”
He also played a major role in forming the Ojibwa Eagles a few years ago. The Eagles were a Midget AAA team that played all over the Midwest before ceasing operations in 2010.
I remember Markham as being one of the main organizers in bringing a Finnish junior hockey team here to play in a spring tournament at Dee Stadium a few years ago.
The Finnish team ended up meeting a northend squad comprised mainly of the Calumet High team that had won a state championship that winter. It was one of the better hockey games seen locally that season, and you could tell that Markham was pleased by the results of the tournament.
Eleanor Helakoski was the wife of Chassell High basketball coaching great Ed Helakoski, who proved without doubt the old adage that behind every successful man is a good woman.
After Helakoski won the last of his three straight Class D championships in Chassell, he took the principal’s job at newly formed White Pine High School. He also coached the Warriors basketball program and had them in the regionals within three seasons.
Eleanor was always there for support of her husband’s teams, and on many occasions, provided cookies and milk for opposing teams after a game.
Even after Ed’s early death in 1969, she was a presence at Warriors’ games, according Larry Chabot, a longtime resident of White Pine.
“She was the First Lady of Basketball in our part of the Upper Peninsula,” Chabot once told me. “She was always helpful and cheerful.”
Lloyd Short, a Houghton native, came to Lake Linden in 1955. He had served as a B-24 navigator in World War II before attending college.
Short was a teacher, coach and superintendent at Lake Linden-Hubbell Schools for 35 years.
Former Lakes coach Ron Warner, who coached three of Short’s sons at LL-Hubbell, said that Lloyd was a constant supporter of athletics.
“I think Lloyd’s interest and involvement in sports was one of the chief reasons we were able to develop a strong athletic program here,” Warner once said. “I know he helped me a lot.”
All of the above people raised families, who not surprisingly, have gone on to do well in sports and life. And that has carried over to their many grandchildren, who also have done well.
That alone ensures that the name of Markham, Helakoski and Short will go on for a very long time.
And that will be the long-lasting legacy of Jim Markham, Eleanor Helakoski and Lloyd Short …