Long time hockey referee and ball field umpire Andre Jean who passed away in October was remembered Oct. 29 with a jersey retirement. From the left, Central Interior Hockey League referee official and friend Tyler Noble, son Patrick Jean, River Kings captain Austin Turner, son Denis Jean and Tanner Noble who worked with Jean as an umpire and referee. (Photo courtesy Ray Hallock)

Referee and umpire Andre Jean leaves a legacy of memories

Jean, who passed away in October, “always had your back”

A man who spent years volunteering as an umpire on the ball field and as a referee on the ice is being remembered as a person who gave hours of his time supporting local athletics.

Andre Jean, known as “Frenchie”, passed away last month.

He was remembered in an on-ice ceremony at the Sportsplex Oct. 29 before the Terrace River Kings game against the Hazelton Wolverines.

Sons Patrick Jean and Denis Jean stood with River Kings captain Austin Turner and Tyler and Tanner Noble, displaying a Terrace Oldtimers Hockey Association jersey that also signified Jean’s years of playing as a goalie on various teams in Kitimat and in Terrace.

Speaking as both a friend and fellow umpire and referee, Tyler Noble paid tribute to Jean’s stamina, sense of humour and participation.

“I’m half his age and I’d be grinding it out there every game, but there’d he be. Total commitment and that’s to his credit. He was always smiling,” said Noble who is in charge of referees for the Central Interior Hockey League.

“We spent a lot of time together on the two sports. I learned a lot from him,” Noble added of time together that including officiating trips to Kitimat and Prince Rupert and refereeing at all levels of amateur hockey.

“He was so sure of what he was doing. He always had your back.

“When you get Terrace and Kitimat together on a Saturday night, you never know what might happen,” Noble added of the rivalry between the River Kings and the Kitimat Ice Demons.”

Noble noted that his brother Tanner also worked with Jean.

Cam MacBean, who is in charge of referees for Terrace Minor Hockey Association, recalls Jean’s playing days as a goalie decades ago on teams in Kitimat and then officiating both ball and hockey in Terrace.

“Back then, in the seniors leagues, you had teams in Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Terrace, Smithers,” he said.

“Certainly if you mentioned Andre in Kitimat, Terrace, Prince Rupert … they would know who he was. Everyone would, up and down the line.”

As an official, MacBean said Jean conducted a tight game, establishing a correct tone and control over teams.

And like Noble, MacBean said Jean would completely support his fellow referees.

“If there was ever a questionable call, Andre would jump in with both feet. He defended your call …. the whole nine yards. He was a fantastic person.”

Jordie Edmonds from Terrace Minor Softball said Jean, dressed in all black as an umpire, made sure young players knew the rules and protocol to follow while on the field.

“He made sure the players were respectful during the game,” said Edmonds.

“He had a heart of gold. He even took time out of his day to run infield drills.”

Jean is being honoured by Terrace Minor Softball with a decision to call its year-end tournament the Andre Jean Memorial Tournament.

People frequenting the arena will also soon see a Terrace Oldtimers Hockey Association jersey prominently displayed.

“He played goalie for the Oldtimers for years,” said Germain Francoeur, the River Kings manager of Jean.

It’ll be placed alongside another jersey, this one in memory of River Kings player Cameron Kerr struck and killed by a hit and run driver in Nov. 2018 while walking on Hwy16 between New Remo and Terrace.

“What we’re going to do is have proper jersey boxes made for each of them, so they’ll be properly displayed,” said Francoeur. Like many, Francoeur remembers Jean as both a player and an official.

“He always had a smile on his face. As a ref, if someone said something to him after a call, he’d laugh it off. But he always had total control of the game.”

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