A few weeks before he passed away, Victor asked me if I would say a few words at his funeral, whenever the time came. I told him of course I would, if he wanted me to. When the time came, Victor`s family made the arrangements and I was not asked to speak. It was probably just as well because I know it would have been incredibly difficult to get the words out. The following is what I had written for my friend Victor on that day.
Hello. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Milton Bourque. I was a good friend of Victor’s. I would like to send my deepest condolences to Victor’s family. Aiden, Jamie and Judy, and Victor’s extended family, his friends and neighbors and all of you in the karate community who knew Victor and were among his many, many friends. Unlike many of you, I have only known Victor for a relatively short time. During that time, we became great friends.
I remember the first time I met Victor. I was refereeing a match at a tournament and it was quite rough. One competitor took a few shots in the head. From behind me, I could hear this guy yelling, “that’s it, block another one with your face”. I’m thinking wow, who is this guy. This happened a couple of times. I found out later that it was Victor yelling and that it was his student in the ring. Victor later said that he had tried to tell him to keep his guards up but he wouldn’t listen. That was Victor.
First time Victor came to a Nova Scotia Karate Association general meeting he was sitting at the table and the president walked in and welcome him to the meeting. Then he made the mistake of asking him if he had anything he wanted to bring up. Well Victor said no, I think I’m just going to watch for a bit to see how things work and then I’m going to take things right over and become president. Well the look on that man’s face was priceless. He didn't know what to say, and the rest of us sure had a good laugh over that.
Well Victor never took over the NSKA but he sure played an important part in it. He became a member of Team Nova Scotia and competed at the Nationals for two or three years. He was Fearless. He fought against guys almost three times his size in the Masters division. There were no weight classes in the Masters division. I think he was a 6th degree black belt at the time. Others with such high rank would never have the guts to compete like that. They would be afraid to look bad. Not Victor. He he got right out there and made us all proud.
After that I convinced him to become an official. He was a bit reluctant at first. “I don’t know all the Japanese words” he would say. Don’t worry about that I said. If you forget use the English. Victor had a very keen eye and it wasn't long before he became a fine official, provincially, and then nationally. It wasn’t easy. “What is this Uechi stuff” they would say to him. He showed them! The last year he went to the Nationals Norma Foster, former Chief referee for karate Canada put him in the chief judge chair for one of the Kata finals. He said “That's when I knew I had finally won her over”.
He never missed a tournament even during his battle with cancer. He truly loved karate and was very passionate about Uechi-Ryu. He didn’t want them to stay in their little bubble. He wanted them to go out and swim with the big fish. Compete at the national and international level. Maybe he didn’t get to see it but it is up to those that are left to continue his work and make it happen.
I asked him once to list his three greatest accomplishments for an introduction on Eastlink TV. You know what he said? No 1- I raised a good son, Aidan. No 2- I operated a dojo for 30 plus years. No 3- became an accepted and respected member of NSKA. He was such a humble individual.
I will miss lots of things about Victor but especially sitting with him in his living room. He always had cold beer in the fridge for me, and he usually had a tea. We would chat for hours about all sorts of things but mostly about karate. He was just a pleasure to be around. He never complained. He was always very positive in his outlook. He was sincere and honest. I’m sure going to miss him. I don't think he was ever more proud than when he presented Aidan with his black belt. He was just beaming. We talked about it a few times and he considered himself very lucky to have had that opportunity.
The last time I spoke to Victor, about one and a half weeks before he passed, he was saying he would like to have an alumni barbecue. I guess he knew the end was close and he would have liked to have seen all of you once more before he went. He would be happy that all of you came today to say goodbye.
Thank you and God bless.