NORTHERNERS IN MEMORIAM 12 Tuesday October 13 2015 6.8103 in x 6.3125 in By DALI CARMICHAEL William Mercredi rarely used Facebook or any other social media but following his pass- ing online forums were alight with tributes and kind words about the Fort Smith elder. Ive been getting stories and condolences from all sorts of people said David Poitras Mercredis brother-in-law. On Oct. 4 witnesses discovered Mercredi deceased near the Fort Smith baseball dia- mond a place he frequented. He was 67. We grew up there and I think he missed my parents said Martha. He used to say I miss mama and papa. I think he just wanted to be close to them. MercrediamanofChipewyandescentwas the youngest of 17 siblings. As a young lad he wasknownforhisathleticismandgoodnature. He and my brother Matthew they used to run out to the dump and back sometimes twice a day Martha said. David said the run was about a 10-mile distance each way. As a teenager Willie learned how to spar like the pros taking part in an initiative run by the territory to train young boxers. To nd him one just had to look to the old re hall or in his living room where other young ath- letes would collect to train together. It was something they were really push- ing back in the day David said. During a brief period of incarceration Mer- credi was pulled from the Yellowknife Correc- tionalInstitutiontorepresenttheterritoryatthe rst-everArcticWinterGamesin1970.Hetook homethegoldmedalforthe132lb.weightclass earning him the nickname Golden Gloves. William Mercredi remembered as friend athlete His reputation as a boxer helped him make friends and perhaps a little extra cash when he joined the Navy and worked out of British Columbia in his early 20s. Upon his return to Fort Smith Mercredi used his boxing skills to connect with youth of the community running lessons out of Uncle Gabes Friendship Centre when his nephews were of ghting age. Following his Navy career Mercredi began to drink heavily and often Martha said. She never knew why. He said he was going to stay sober for seven yearsandhedidsaidMatthewPoitrasMercre- disnephew.Idontknowwhythatwashisgoal but he did it. Then when he was in Yellowknife onetimehesaidhehadonebeerandthatwasit. When Mercredi was off the wagon his fam- ily and friends were often there to help out often giving him a bed to sleep in or taking him to the shelter in town. He really had nine lives Martha said. In return for their kindness he would tell a story or pay a compliment. He had a disease David said. He was one of those cases where you have to sepa- rate the disease from the person. He really was a wonderful man. A friend to anyone Mercredi is remembered by many in the community as someone who was funny kind and a friend to anyone. Poitras shared one particularly touching story with the Journal from an employee at the Northern Lights Special Care Home where he lived for the last few years of his life. It took place before he moved in. Every so often Mercredi would visit this employee out the back door of the kitchen. After gently rapping on the door and ash- ing a quick smile he would be fed sandwiches along with nurturing sides of fresh fruit and whatever snacks were on the menu. One day he entered through the front of the building startling a new employee and causing them to call the police. He quickly retreated to his usual entrance but it was too late police were already at the building. AsMercrediwasabouttobecarriedawaythe employee from the kitchen stopped the police ofcersandexplainedherfriendshipwithhim. The ofcer familiar with Mercredi re- plied that not only would he take him to his favourite park near the towns baseball dia- mond but he would join the elderly fellow for lunch - if she would be so kind as to pack a second sandwich. They took really good care of him at North- ern Lights Martha said. They really care for him over there. PhotocourtesyofMarthaPoitras Former Gold Glove boxer William Mercredi was found deceased in Fort Smith last week.