By Darren Lum
It’s fitting that when Lenny Salvatori was asked to share his thoughts after being announced as one of three builders inducted to the Haliburton Highlands Hall of Fame he deflected credit to others.
He said what he did was all about giving back to ensure the vibrancy of the community. It wasn’t about receiving any accolades.
“There’s always people that do a lot in the community and don’t get any credit and sometimes you leave them out and they get missed completely. It’s hard to pick a bunch of people out and say this guy is better than another person. I know a lot of good people who have worked hard in minor hockey and sports and didn’t get a lot of credit for it,” he said. “I did what I liked to do and I did a lot of it, but I did it because I loved what I was doing, so I just did it.”
The Haliburton resident, who joins builders Linda J. Brandon and Albert John LaRue, also known as A.J. LaRue, is well-loved by everyone for his dedication to the community and for who he is as a person – giving and compassionate. He has touched so many lives through his involvement with athletics, education, conservation and health through the different organizations he either started or served dutifully over the decades.
At 91, he is a voracious reader, avid painter, and is still active in athletics, golfing and regularly finishes with a score lower than his age.
He is the son of Armando Salvatori, who came to Canada in the 1920s from Sarnano, Italy and Mary Biagi of Sault Ste. Marie. He has three adult children, who he raised with his wife, Betty, before she died in 1969. She was a teacher and also an active volunteer, helping at Extendicare, a Sunday school teacher and helped to give rides to cancer patients.
Salvatori has a long list of examples of his service to the community.
This includes coaching and managing athletes in hockey and baseball during the 1950s, serving 30 years as a Haliburton’s Ontario Minor Hockey Association representative, close to 40 years as Haliburton’s Wolf Club Pack Leader, service to the Haliburton County Board of Education from 1962 to 1994, close to 10 years serving on the local hospital board, 20 years volunteering at the fish hatchery, and he was part of a group that helped to start the Glen Dart Hockey Tournament, which became the highlight tournament for youth hockey players throughout Haliburton County.
His other achievements include being recognized by being named the Highlander of the Year in 1978, and the Citizen of the Year, as named by the Rotary Club of Haliburton in 1993. There’s also a building named after him. In 2017, the Adult Education Training Centre was renamed Leonard Salvatori Alternate Learning Centre.
All of this came from his commitment to making the community the best it can be.
“I just believed everybody in the community should make a contribution if they can. Some people can’t do that sort of thing and I was pretty fortunate to be part of my community and that’s the important part. I think we’re lacking that right at the moment,” he said.
Although Salvatori was reluctant to be given the attention, he hopes his example can inspire others despite the prevailing attitude of most people not being as involved as they used to be.
“It was my community and I wanted to be part of it,” he said.
He said some think people get involved to gain attention and praise, but for him his list of achievements came down to doing what was needed to bring people together.
“One example, in minor hockey a lot of kids don’t get any parent support and you get them involved in minor hockey and you help them along and you make sure they get to be part of the community and then the family also gets involved too. There’s a lot of people who are not interested in sports. They’re not interested in anything, but their kids. If you can get the kids involved in doing things in the community like sports … like baseball and whatever then the parents get an interest in their child and it grows in the community,” he said.
The influences in Salvatori’s life included his hard-working parents and W.R. Curry, who owned Curry Motors where he worked for 45 years, starting as a 19-year-old, and eventually became a part-owner at the dealership. It was W.R. Curry who came to him to re-start the scouts after it had only ran briefly and then paused for a few years, believing in Salvatori’s character and leadership abilities.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate to be around good people and they influenced me and that’s what probably influenced me to do things,” he said.
The official Hall of Fame induction ceremony is expected this autumn. There are 15 inductees for the categories of athlete, builder and team.