Don’s Premature Obituary

Recently I wrote about John “Chick” Webster, who played 14 games for the Rangers in ’49-50 and which can be seen here – Chick Webster.

Today it’s about his brother Don.

Don Webster, although a minor leaguer for most of his career, suited up for 27 regular season and 5 playoff games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1943-44, and as far as I know, he came out unscathed.

It was the following year, while with the Hershey Bears, when he almost died after being checked by the Buffalo Bisons’ Roger Leger, whose stick fractured and went up into Don’s abdomen. (Leger played for the Habs from 1946 to 1950).

As doctors worked on Don, reporters scrambled and wrote two stories – one if he lived and one if he died. Thankfully he lived, although sixteen pieces of stick were removed from his innards.

After Don recovered, he was given a copy of his obituary, which must have been a strange sensation to say the least.

Doctors got all but one piece, which was eventually found and taken out more than twenty years later in California where Don had retired to, and where he would eventually pass away in 1978.

Thanks to Don’s nephew Rob Webster for the pics and info.

Below, Don second from left.

Don Webster

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Brothers John and Don in 1975

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8 thoughts on “Don’s Premature Obituary”

  1. Back In The 60s Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers Had A Lineman Named Jerry Kramer. As A Kid Playing Around He Stepped On A Piece Of Wood That Speared Him In His Stomach Broke Off Into Pieces. Doctors At The Time (1940s ?) Thought They Got All The Wood Splinters. Years Later Playing For The Packers -JK Complained Of Soreness In His Mid-Section. Doctors Had A look & Found A Wood Splinter Missed Years Earlier When He Was A Kid. I Read About This In Jerry Kramer’s Book Which He Put Out In The 70s……

  2. Wow, Martin! I’m sure the Websters will be interested to hear this. It’s very similar to what happened to Don. Thanks.

  3. Dennis,
    Just a few words to tell you how much I enjoy your writing even though I was never a Habs fan and in fact have ceased to be a Maple Leafs fan. I really like your writing on the 72 series (I watched from Coleman House on the UofT Erindale campus) and I especially like your articles on the Webster brothers or as I call them, uncle Don and uncle Chick.

    Growing up I never knew Don as he lived in California but it was my great privilege to be his chauffeur for 3 or 4 days of his last visit to Southern Ontario visiting family and friends and also Maple Leaf Gardens – a visit referenced by Dan Proudfoot in the article posted with your blog. I loved finally getting to know him better and I remember being so pleased that, like my dad and his other siblings, Don was genuinely a great guy. Just a few years after that visit Don suffered a debilitating stroke, and not too long after that he died at the age of 54.

    I remember Chick visiting my family in Mississauga in the late 60’s and early 70’s and joining pickup games on the outdoor rink. I remember the sound of the crunching ice under his skates and being blown away by his speed and puck handling – I wasn’t a good hockey player so it was no surprise I couldn’t even get near him – but even the best players on the ice, including some future Major Junior A players, were literally unable to take the puck off him. Funny the things we remember. I recently visited Chick in Mattawa with my then 13 year old daughter – and he hasn’t really changed much – still the same decent unassuming guy with a sharp wit and quiet laugh and great talent on the piano. My dad died long before my daughter was born, so it was very special for me that Chick and Vanessa made an immediate connection. He’s still going strong at 94.

    Despite both being good guys, apparently during a game Chick and Don had a nasty fight that made the headlines and apparently really upset my grandmother; I know I’ve seen a newspaper picture of them brawling on the ice and the headline “Webster vs. Webster.”

    Thanks for sharing my uncles’ stories – I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your blogs; there seems to be quite a large number of them, but I’m only 62 so hopefully I have enough time.

  4. Ken, thanks very much for reading and now sharing some stories. Very interesting, and I’d like to say that both Don and Chick have been tremendously pleasant to me and it’s been a real privilege to be in contact with both. You sound like a true Webster for sure – friendly and down to earth, and I enjoyed reading your comments very much. Please keep reading my blog, there’s only slightly over 4000 posts you need to get through, and I know you can do it. 🙂 Thanks again and all the best.

  5. I’ve visited this blog many times over the years, but missed the Don Webster piece, which I was just delighted to find through Google. The reason for my delight is that I met Don one Saturday evening in the early 1960s while skating at the tiny rink in Fresno, California. Don, a little more than 20 years older than I and in his late 30s, was the only other skater wearing hockey skates (all the rest wore the figure skates that the rink rented), and so I asked him where he was from. We struck up a conversation, and I was astonished to discover that he had played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, which he divulged only after I asked him whether he had played any hockey and then for which teams. He was so modest and so friendly but I did draw out of him that he had scored against the Canadiens (my team) at the Forum, but only after the Rocket had scored the game’s first two goals.

    It was such a pleasure to talk with him as we skated round that tiny rink that I have never forgotten it. I’m sorry to learn that Don left us all too early. Hope Chick Webster is well and best wishes to the entire Webster family.

  6. P.S. Since the hidden stick piece wasn’t removed until 20 years after the original injury in 1945, that would mean Don still had it inside him as we skated together, which would have been 1962 or earlier. I do remember that Don told me he had been badly injured during his career, but I remember nothing about the miraculous discovery and removal of a 17th stick piece, which he surely would have told me about had it happened by then and which I surely would have remembered had he told me of it.

    My writing this has underlined for me that the Internet has made it very plain just how small is the world in which we live.

  7. Great stuff, Peter, and thanks for this. Chick Webster and his son Rob are doing well (as far as I know), and are extremely nice people. So with you telling me about how friendly Don was, it tells me that this is an exceptional family. And yes indeed, the Internet shows that the world is small and we’re often able to connect the dots regarding people from our past. When we were growing up, we had no idea.

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