Bayview Golf and Country Club assistant pro Dave Zink (left) and teaching pro George Clifton are seen in this 1960s-era picture. Photo is courtesy of Richard Janes.
Friends and family will gather at the Royal Canadian Legion branch in Port Perry in two weeks to celebrate the life of David Robert Zink, who died Aug. 7 at age 69.
If you want an example of someone with wide-ranging talents and interests, Dave Zink would be your man.
He was a professional golfer – a talent inherited, no doubt, from his mother , who was a provincial golf champion – and served as head pro at the Bowmanville Golf and Country Club as well as assistant pro at Bayview in Toronto.
In 1970, he was named director of the Peter Jackson Canada Golf Tour and later became executive-director of the Canadian Professional Golfers’ Association. He left the CPGA to start a long-distance trucking company.
Work aside, he had a passionate hobby. His interest in the military as a collector of items such as books on military history and artifacts such as cap badges, campaign medals and model soldiers led to him opening his store, Grenadier Militaria, about 20 years ago in Port Perry.
And what does this have to do with auto racing, you might ask? Because, back in the 1960s when he was in Bowmanville, he met Can Am and F1 star Denis Hulme and they became friends.
After that, whenever Hulme came to Canada to race, particularly at Mosport, Zink worked on his pit crew. He was also a friend of David Hobbs, who raced in the first F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Mosport in 1967.
But back to his contributions to Canadian military history.
The first store he opened in Port Perry was on the south side of Queen Street. But when the Memorial Library became available, he moved his business there and turned the site into a museum as well as a bookstore.
Enter noted Canadian author Ted Barris, who once wrote a profile about Zink, starting with a vignette about a local high school teacher, Dave Robinson, approaching Zink to help find military props for a little theatre production.
"It was the beginning of a productive relationship between Robinson and Zink. In the years that followed that first favour, Port Perry High School students began making nearly annual trips to Europe so that students could visit and learn about historic Canadian battles of the First and Second World Wars. . .
"In 2003, Port Perry students travelled to Normandy for the 60th anniversary of D-Day. In 2007, they attended the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The next year (they attended) the liberation anniversary in Ortona, Italy. Almost invisibly, Dave Zink facilitated all those historical tours.
" ‘ Dave helped us . . . with fundraising and by donating things from his collections.’ said Robinson. ‘ He put us in contact with Canadian authors like Mark Ziehike and Norm Christie. Dave’s passion for his country is so genuine and so subtle.’ "
Writing about the launching of one of his own military books, Barris reminisced this way:
"He staged an autographing and book launch in the store. . . During that period, we staged a meet-the-veterans event, when high school students met Charley Fox, a decorated Spitfire pilot, and George MacDonnell, a survivor of the siege at Hong Kong.
"Almost stealing the show, however, was the inclusion of an actual Victoria Cross medal, which Dave arranged to borrow (under police escort) from the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto – just for the evening."
The celebration of Dave Zink’s life will be held from noon until 3:30 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 15, at Legion Branch 419 at 484 Bay St. in Port Perry.
He leaves his wife of 37 years, Janice (Fernley), and a son, Steven.