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Bob Stark Memorial Field Dedication

On Saturday, July 6th, 2019 our club joined with our Baseball association to dedicate the lower diamond at Oakridge Optimist Community Park to Optimist Bob Stark.  The ceremony occurred at 9:00 am during the annual Bob Stark Rookie Ball Tournament.  The ceremony was attended by Optimists, Baseball Association members, Bob's family and members of the community.  Optimist Jim Easton gave a thoughtful overview of what Bob meant to our club and community.  

I am an Oakridge Optimist. 


Bob Stark was an Optimist and member of our club for 47 years. He served with the honour of Life Member for almost 30 years. 


Bob had only just joined the club when in 1972 he called me to come to his house for a meeting. Something about help was needed in the baseball program. It would be the first of many meetings in the Stark living room. Within two seasons I was coaching a team, convening the PeeWee house league, umpiring and helping out with the T-Ball tournament. It was easy to do because Bob supported you and he led by a committed and enthusiastic example. 


In 1978 Bob became President of the Oakridge Optimists and he invited me to an Optimist dinner meeting. Members certainly picked on Bob especially kidding him about his height. But Bob could take it and give it back equally as well. My career took me to Toronto and Ottawa so I did not join at that time but I returned to London in 1981 and Bob got me actively involved on the Optimist hockey committee and later he sponsored me in to the club.


Bob served as chair of both the Optimist baseball and hockey programs and spent many years on both committees. Through his various club roles Bob was able to ensure that the sports programs maintained fairness, quality and continuity. He was a baseball and hockey leader but he also helped recruit our first soccer chair and ensured that the program got off the ground and was a success. 


As an Optimist Bob’s priorities certainly were our sports programs but he supported club events whether of a social or fundraising nature. I have memories of his participation in the Bunny Bundle canoe race, skate-a-thons and car rallies back in the 90’s. More recently when our Trivia Night fundraiser began Bob was one of the first to purchase tickets in support. Not 2 tickets, but 2 full tables, 16 tickets and he gave them to his coaching colleagues.


Bob passed along many legacies to Oakridge but perhaps the most valuable was his dedication to membership. Bob introduced the Optimist club to many coaches and parents. He sponsored many of these fine people in to our club. The genealogy of Bob’s recruitment is cherished to this day as over half of the current members in our club can trace their tie and introduction to optimism back to a sponsorship initiated by Bob Stark. 


Each meeting Optimists recite the Optimist Creed. I could pick many of the lines from the creed and say - “That was Bob Stark”,  but perhaps the most fitting testament is the motto of Optimist International which is “Friend of Youth”. The youth of Oakridge sports could not have ever had a better friend than Bob Stark. 


So each time you come by this sign remember Bob, a true Optimist. A selfless and dedicated person who reached out in his community and made a world of difference.