Lives Lived: Lyle Helland
I remember sitting in the stands at a Moose Jaw Miller Express game at Ross Wells park during the summer. From our seats in the bleachers, with a tilt of the neck, I could see the walls of Memorial Field across the road, and a pair of heads peering above them, clandestinely taking in the ball game. One of the heads I recognized.
“There’s Lyle” I said to my wife.
He and someone else were standing at the top of Memorial Park’s bleachers, watching the Miller game from across the street. I’d seen him do this before, only those other times I didn't know who Lyle was.
I didn't meet Lyle Helland through his work with the Moose Jaw Warriors or during his reign as the unofficial Mayor of Moose Jaw and I’ve never once eaten a “Lyle Burger”. Heck, I’ve never even watched a baseball game at Memorial Field. Although I’ve known a few people to play there.
I’d go as far as saying that on that day I saw him in the bleachers across the street from Ross Wells park, that he most certainly wouldn't have known my name and very likely wouldn't even have remembered why I knew him. But that’s besides the point. Lyle Helland played a very small but moderately important part of my adult life. And during that period was about as helpful and welcoming as humanly possible.
And I feel more needs to be said about him.
In the summer of 2017, my wife and I were planning our wedding. The ceremony was to take place out doors and it was booked for the beginning of September. So finding a well manicured outdoor space, that comfortably fits 200 people, without the risk of becoming a mud bog, was not necessarily the easiest task.
“What about a baseball diamond?” my wife asked.
One thing led to another and we arrived at Memorial Park one evening to size up the grounds for a wedding.
Lyle was friendly and courteous. He showed us around the park and was open to every request we had. We wanted to run electricity from the scoreboard so we could have live music. He thought that was great. We wanted to people to be able to access the park from every available gate or door. He thought that was great. We wanted to set up an arch the evening before and use the park as a temporary storage facility prior to the big day. He thought that was great too. We even asked if we could pull the advertisements down from the fence and put them up again after. He told us he would pull them down himself and that we were not to worry about it.
The grass was even freshly cut and the dirt freshly raked prior to us arriving.
How much did he charge us for his time, energy and the use of the field? Nothing. Not a red cent.
“I’m just happy someone is using it” he told us.
That’s it. My one and only encounter with Lyle Helland. That was a busy time in my life. He made it so much easier…and cheaper.
The wedding was perfect.
This is just a story I wanted out there. I met Lyle. I liked him. He was good to my wife and I. I am grateful for him. I wish I’d met him earlier and known him better.
I’ve since been in contact with a couple other people who knew Lyle and wished to say some words.
Sean Lougheed: “He was a good guy, for sure. He was a gentleman that I respected a lot. He was a straight-shooter and you always knew where you stood with him.”
Calli Heinbigner: “Lyle was an amazing man, an icon in the community and an honour to know. He always greeted me with a warm smile and a big hug whenever our paths crossed. He went out of his way to make a person feel like family, was genuinely interested In what was happening in one’s life. He made a point of making sure he knew what sports were being played in ones family, who was playing what and for which team. Lyle was a true gem who I have the utmost respect for and someone I will cherish forever. He was someone I could sit and listen to for hours as he had the most interesting stories. He was loved by so many, will always be remembered and missed by each and every life he’s touched. The world lost an unforgettable man but heaven gained an incredible angel.”