Lunch With Rod

On Thursday I caught a ride from Regina to Saskatoon with Rod Donlevy.  We met again today (Friday) for lunch at ‘Cut’ in Saskatoon.  Despite persistent drizzle and gloomy skies, I couldnt be happier!

In the late 1960s Rod, his father Urban (Don) and Rod’s friend, Gerry Cronin, started Central Program Register Limited.  In 1982 they hired me to represent the company on the Manitoba / Saskatchewan harness racing circuit and six years later they sold the business to Gord Irwin and myself.  Suffice to say, my life took a very nice turn the day I met these three gentlemen.  I’m very grateful for the trust Rod placed in me as a 19-year-old “kid”, his guidance over the years, and his continued friendship.

Rod practices law in Saskatoon so I was very happy to get an afternoon of his time yesterday and another few hours over lunch today… without a billing meter running in the background.  If Rod’s name sounds familiar it’s probably because he has been in the spotlight as the Chief Negotiator for Catholic entities in the historic agreement among former residential school students, the Government of Canada and numerous churches.  He’s been working on that particular file since 1997 and just last week he was in Toronto’s University Avenue Courthouse on behalf of the Catholic entities.  I wish I could have been there to watch him in action!

Rod’s brother Joe Donlevy ran Central’s Calgary plant in the late 80s.  We spent literally hundreds of hours on the phone — me standing in a phone booth near the Winnipeg airport and Joe in the Calgary office, proof-reading thoroughbred past performance lines.  Those were long days but fun times that I’ll never forget.

Joe went on to get his MBA, started a very successful industrial pipe company, and for the past seven years he has served as Chief of Staff to the Premier of Saskatchewan, The Honourable Brad Wall.  With entrepreneurial guys like Joe in the Premier’s office, it should come as no surprise that this province is booming!

For me at least, no trip to Saskatoon would be complete without a visit with the Donlevy family.  Thanks for making this happen, Rod.


PS: Yes, Nancy, I gave him a hug for you as requested!


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